Amazing Students Profiles

Tracy Yang

Tracy Yang

“Amazing” seems too simplistic to describe Tracy Yang. Rhodes Scholar, Foundation Fellow, Honors student and Truman Scholar are just a few of her many UGA accomplishments and accolades. After graduating this spring, Tracy plans to attend graduate school at Oxford University in England and later medical school in the United States. And what’s one goal she’s set her sights on? To become a spelunker!


Macon, Ga.

High School:

Westside High School

Degree objective:

Bachelor of arts in anthropology

Expected graduation:

May 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I am involved with the UGA Roosevelt Institute, a student-run think tank tackling some of the most challenging and interesting policy issues of our time by teaching students how to approach problems and create policy analyses.  I was a teaching assistant for the Roosevelt Scholars course last fall, which has been one of my most rewarding college experiences. Helping my peers learn about the policy analysis process was thought-provoking and fun, and my students were wonderful. My interest in the editing side of the writing process led me to work with the Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, for which I am currently the social sciences editor.

I am also a mentor through the Clarke County Mentor Program and have mentored the same elementary school student for the past three years.

Two summers ago, I traveled to Guatemala and Nicaragua to study Spanish and work in clinics and hospitals in the area. My interests in global health disparities and medicine solidified during this experience. I shadowed a truly inspirational female physician who traveled from her home in Managua to the island of Ometepe every week to serve her fellow Nicaraguans who have such limited access to care. Learning Spanish has opened so many doors for me, and I now teach English as a second language to day laborers in Athens.

I have been lucky enough to be awarded scholarships to further my education, including the UGA Foundation Fellowship, the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship, the Truman Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship. Through the Foundation Fellowship, I have traveled to England, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Australia and New Zealand and will be headed to Jordan this spring! The support and communities provided through these scholarships are phenomenal, and I have met so many amazing people, many of them my peers, through them.

Family Ties to UGA:

My sister, Vicki, attended UGA as an undergraduate.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…of the wonderful people and resources available through the university and the Honors Program! I remember being struck by how friendly and helpful everyone was when I visited as a prospective student. The options available to students at a large research university such as UGA are staggering. I already was strongly considering UGA when I received my acceptance into the Foundation Fellowship program, and that helped me make up my mind quickly! I feel honored to be a member of such a vibrant community of students, faculty and staff. I also fell in love with the town of Athens – for someone who loves live music, there is no better place to live.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…relax on a beautiful sunny day (unfortunately, we’ve been rather short on those lately) with a cup of coffee and a book or my iPod on Herty Field, the Founders Memorial Garden or Myers Quad. I also just started taking dance classes at the Ramsey Student Center this semester, and I love them.

When I have free time, I like…

… read, dance, cook, listen to music and spend time with friends.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…jump out of a plane 15,000 feet above the ground. Okay, so I was attached to a parachute, but skydiving in New Zealand was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had. I was in Taupo on North Island, and not only enjoyed the rush but was treated to a beautiful view of lakes, patchwork fields, and mountains (including the volcano filmed in Lord of the Rings as Mt. Doom).

My favorite place to study is…

…my apartment. There’s just nothing like studying in an environment you can call home, and it’s such a cozy place to do work. I have three wonderful roommates and an unlimited supply of coffee. If I need a quiet place on campus, I often head to the third or fourth floor of the Science Library for a desk with a view.

My favorite professor is…

…to UGA’s credit, I have a difficult time answering this question! I am extremely grateful to professors such as Dr. Susan Tanner, Dr. Daniel Promislow, Dr. Rick Tarleton, Dr. Phaedra Corso and Dr. Angela Fertig for their mentoring and support through my undergraduate years. Their guidance has helped me explore my interests and goals, and they have always made time to chat with me (and many other students) despite being extremely busy. Through their example, I have learned the importance of helping younger students and hope to do so for the rest of my life. Dr. Oliver Li and Dr. Bram Tucker have been two of my favorite professors as well; they both have a gift for breaking down complex concepts in a way students can understand, and they both deliver the funniest lectures!

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…Paul Farmer, though I bet he would be too busy! Dr. Farmer is a physician-anthropologist who is well-known for his work with Partners in Health, an organization providing care to some of the poorest patients around the world. I would love to ask him questions about his perspectives on the future of medicine and the role of health practitioners in our rapidly changing world. His dedication to providing care to those who are most vulnerable and voiceless is inspirational, and his success in doing so is something I hope to achieve one day.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…become a spelunker. I have been on a few caving trips and loved them, so the natural progression for me is to want to be able to explore them! I think that it takes such bravery and skill to explore uncharted territory beneath the ground. Imagine what it would be like to squeeze through a narrow passageway and realize that you are surrounded by millions of glowworms, a waterfall or something else that takes your breath away.

After graduation, I plan to…

…move to England and enroll in the Global Health Science Program at Oxford University. I am thrilled about the opportunity to live in another country and study at one of the leading international academic centers. After studying in England for two years, I plan to return to the U.S. and attend medical school.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…being on a live CNN Newsroom student panel on national television. I was one of four students (two from UGA) invited to discuss the theme of “Broken Government” or gridlock in the political system. I had never been on a television show before, let alone one that was being filmed live. I loved watching the operations of the newsroom and the behind-the-scenes perspective of creating CNN’s shows. I remember feeling surprised when I realized that our discussion was over. It had been a fun and interesting – though a bit heart-pounding – 10 minutes!