When I was nine years old, my family took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. As we entered Yellowstone, we glimpsed a Bald Eagle on its morning hunt and a young Black Bear drinking in a small creek. When we got to the geyser basins, I was awed by what I saw. The different colors of the paint pots and springs baffled me. I wanted to know why they looked that way, how they produced brilliant colors of copper reds, brunt oranges, emerald greens, and deep blues. I devoured every book on Yellowstone’s thermal features in every gift shop we stopped at. I even convinced my parents to ask permission to use a sample of a hot spring for my 5th grade science project. Although I never ended up using that sample from Yellowstone, I kept it as a reminder of the trip where my love for science and the unknown began to blossom. I began to pursue opportunities that connected me to science throughout middle and high school and, eventually, at a university.
I entered Auburn as a microbiology major, but was not sure what path I wanted to take. I accepted an invitation to join the lab of Dr. Mark Liles as a freshman. Dr. Liles works on discovering novel, natural antibiotics from soil bacteria. I joined the lab not only to study antibiotics and their mechanisms, but also to learn more about microbiology and to apply the knowledge I gained in class to the laboratory. I discovered a love of seeing the experiment to the end and discovering that the data helps to confirm, or even contradict, a hypothesis. Sometimes, it is the experiments that reach an unexpected conclusion that help us out the most, and I have certainly found this to be true in my research. I always end up with additional questions which drive me to continue the pursuit of the final answer. This experience has strengthened my determination to continue research, specifically to conduct medical research.
I have always driven myself to aid people. I have been involved as a leader and member in various organizations throughout my life. I have used my research and leadership opportunities to prepare me for a career in medicine as a physician-scientist, a career in which I can solve problems and help people. A career including medical research would enable me to study infectious diseases and their mechanisms of infection to better help patients. Medicine needs to constantly keep up-to-date with cutting edge biological research, so we can remain ahead of new diseases. As a physician-scientist, I would be in a unique position to bring medicine from a laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.
My Oma, German for Grandma, lived with us during my childhood. As a female student in post-World War II Germany, she only received an eighth grade education. She made it her goal to get her GED in America. She always emphasized the need for a quality education to better yourself and the world around you. I took her lessons to heart. I will also complete a German degree during my time at Auburn as a testament to my family’s heritage and my love of the German language and culture. As a Fulbright student, I will be in a unique position to combine microbiology and German. I will be able to improve my German and take part in advanced research in microbiology. As part of my course work, I studied in Vienna for five weeks during the summer of 2010. I lived with a host family for those five weeks and really tried to immerse myself in Austrian culture. This experience not only greatly improved my German language skills but also gave me the confidence to use German and study internationally.
I look forward to serving as a bridge between America and Germany, between our cultures. When I return from Germany, I plan on enrolling in an MD/PhD program to continue towards my goal of becoming a physician-scientist.
Last Updated: January 15, 2014