To say Ellie Sharp, a senior premed student, has made the most of her time at UGA would be an understatement. But between all of her activities, she has kept her eye on her goal of medical school and then wants to promote “equality through access to health care.”
Lakeside High School
B.S. in biology, B.S. in psychology
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
The summer before I started college, I participated in UGA’s Freshman College, which was an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in college life and get acquainted with UGA’s campus, and I am still friends with the people I met during this program. Since I came to college knowing that I wanted to attend medical school, I immediately joined the American Medical Student Association and became an active member during my freshman year. I remember feeling so intimidated by the seniors who were already accepted into medical school and seemed so old, it is just crazy that I am now at that point in my college career.
I began to take advantage of my college summers starting freshman year when I participated in a UGA Study Abroad Program to Australia and Fiji and went hiking in the Outback, lived with a native Fijian family during a homestay experience, and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I was able to enroll in my study abroad courses at the graduate level, which has allowed me to work toward graduating with an honors capstone. The following summer, I traveled to Belize on a Well Child International/International Service Learning medical mission trip and gained incredible firsthand exposure to the medical needs of the developing world. Last summer, I worked as an intern in the Emory Center for Neurodegenerative Disease performing research on the genetic contributions to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Through obtaining detailed family histories of the disease and creating dozens of medical pedigrees, I observed incredible demonstrations of devotion, appreciated the hope that health care provides and recognized what we remember most from our lives.
I started volunteering with Athens foster children and Children’s First Childcare during my second year at UGA. That same year, I worked as a volunteer on the general surgery floor of Athens Regional Medical Center, where I also participated in many physician-shadowing experiences. As a junior, I became the community service chair for AMSA and organized volunteer opportunities in the Athens community. Through my involvement with both AMSA and Children’s First Childcare, I was able to encourage AMSA members to bring in donations for Athens foster children and deliver these donations to the children myself, which was an absolutely incredible experience. Recently I was extremely honored to receive the Athens-Oconee County “Volunteer of the Year” award for the Department of Children and Family Services.
As the current president of AMSA, I love being able to provide mentorship and guidance to our youngest members as they begin to navigate college for themselves. My time at UGA has provided me with opportunities to be a part of many wonderful honor societies, such as Alpha Epsilon Delta and Blue Key; participate in life-changing community service opportunities, both internationally and here in Athens; and be a part of something much bigger than myself. I feel that my time at UGA has prepared me for my future academically, socially and professionally in so many different ways and I am extremely grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had as a part of the Bulldog Nation.
Family Ties to UGA:
Although I am the first Bulldog in the Sharp family, I am definitely not the last. My younger brother is a sophomore here at UGA and has been making me look bad in everything from his perfect scores on organic chemistry tests to his domination on the intramural soccer fields.
I chose to attend UGA because…
Although I was at first somewhat reluctant to attend UGA because of its size, I was convinced that I wanted to become a Bulldog once I visited the campus and realized how the Honors College formed a microcosm of the university. I feel like being a part of the Honors Program at UGA has allowed me to have two different, but equally valuable, college experiences. I have been able to form friendships with my fellow equally driven—and at times neurotic—premedical students and develop close relationships with professor mentors through the Honors Program while simultaneously enjoying the social events, community service opportunities and Saturdays in Athens that are inherent to student life at UGA.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… meet my little brother at the Tate Café for lunch, play with the guide dog puppies that are just begging to be cuddled and held (I promise I ask their owners for permission first!) and go running or work out at Ramsey to escape from academics and regain much-needed perspective.
When I have free time, I like…
I have lived with my two roommates for the past three years and they are my best friends in the whole world. Anything we do together, from eating absurd amounts of cheese dip to having “Grey’s Anatomy” marathons, is the absolute best way to spend my free time.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
My time at UGA has been marked by some crazy adventures. I have gone skydiving twice, swam with sharks and stingrays in “Shark Ray Alley” during my trip to Belize, snorkeled through narrow underwater tunnels of coral off the coast of Australia (and I have the scars to prove it), drank kava with native Fijians during my study abroad, and gone caving two miles into a pitch-black underground cave to explore a Mayan archaeological site where we saw human skeletons from ancient sacrificial rituals.
My favorite place to study is…
I have spent more hours than I would like to admit reviewing biochemical pathways and enzymes involved in DNA replication at the Jittery Joe’s coffee shop at Five Points. My favorite time to study there is on Friday and Saturday mornings when the regulars, who happen to be UGA alumni, stop in for a cup of coffee and some animated conversation. I love listening to them reminisce about their time in college because it reminds me to look further than my upcoming exam and to cherish every moment of my time here.
My favorite professor is…
My life changed forever on the day that I first met my adviser, Karl Espelie. I have never met a more selfless, dedicated, inspired person and I hope to one day improve the lives of others as much as Dr. Espelie has through his mentorship and teaching at UGA. Dr. Espelie has always been there to answer my questions and make me feel better about everything. From averting many of my panic attacks concerning my future to showing me the best healthy meal in Athens (Golden Bowl at The Grit, hands down), Dr. Espelie has helped me to retain my (relative) sanity during college. I am so grateful to him for everything that he has done and continues to do to help students succeed.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
My great-great-grandfather, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, challenged preconceived notions about stereotypes, health care and poverty, pioneered epidemiological analysis, and discovered the cause of and the cure for pellagra, a vitamin deficiency that killed many Americans in the early 20th century. I would love to spend an afternoon with my dad, an epidemiologist, and Dr. Goldberger, my dad’s grandfather, and listen to their life stories and try to emulate their passion for public health and medicine.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… create and implement public health and preventive medicine initiatives in developing countries worldwide. I believe that the most effective way to work toward achieving social justice is by promoting equality through access to health care. What makes a child born in a refugee camp in Cambodia any less deserving than a child born in the United States? Yet incidence of birth remains a major determinant of quality of life for children worldwide. By improving public health standards in developing countries and focusing on preventive medicine in developed countries, we would be able to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission, rid the world of the neglected tropical diseases and ensure healthier, happier and brighter futures for children regardless of their place of birth.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… travel with my family to Bangkok, Thailand, to see the place where I was born and visit the camps where my parents provided health care to Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees during my few first months of life. My dream is to return to Thailand after achieving my medical education and provide medical care in the same capacity as my parents did 20 years ago.
After graduation, I plan to…
… sleep for a very long time! After an extended nap, I plan to attend medical school—where I may never sleep again—and eventually become a physician.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
I truly believe that the professional, academic and social relationships I’ve formed during my time here have changed the course of my life in the absolute best way possible. Every member of the Bulldog Nation is incredible, and without my friends and fellow students I would have never survived organic chemistry exams or studying for the MCAT. From scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef during my UGA study abroad in Australia to celebrating my medical school acceptance with my closest friends during this year’s Georgia-Florida weekend, the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve had here just continue to amaze me. Thus, I think the “one” UGA experience I will always remember is actually the totality of the different interactions I’ve had, lessons I’ve learned and memories I’ve accumulated while fortunate enough to be a student at UGA. Go Dawgs!