Amazing Students

Brinkley Bray

Brinkley Bray, a senior majoring in biology and Romance languages, has packed in a lot of experience—with plenty of travel, honors and scholarships—during her time at UGA, all preparing her to become a doctor dedicated to delivering quality health care to patients living in medically underserved areas of Georgia.

Hometown:

Peachtree City, GA, although I was born in the Netherlands.

High School:

McIntosh High School

Degree objective:

• Biology, B.S.
• Romance languages (Spanish and French emphasis), A.B.

Expected graduation:

May 2017

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

Honors and Involvement:
— UGA Honors Program
— Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
— Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society
— Order of Omega Greek Life Honor Society
— American Medical Student Association
— UGA Residence Hall Learning Community: Maternal & Child Health and Nutrition
— Co-Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry Labs
— Georgia Genomics Facility Laboratory Intern

Scholarships:
— Zell B. Miller Scholarship
— Honors International Scholars Program Scholarship
— Piedmont Fayette Hospital Scholarship
— Delta Air Lines Academic Excellence Achievement Scholarship
— National Society of High School Scholars Achievement Scholarship
— National Society of Collegiate Scholars Merit Scholarship

Another fun fact about me: I speak four languages (English, Dutch, French and Spanish)!

Current Employment:

Spanish and biology tutor.

Family Ties to UGA:

My family has been attending UGA for over 75 years. My dad graduated UGA in 1979 with a degree in journalism, and he has always talked about the wonderful four years he experienced in Athens. Although he did not push me to attend UGA, I know he was excited when I decided to become a Dawg! My aunt studied English at UGA and graduated in 1985. In addition, my grandfather was a Double Dawg and attended UGA Law School. I love hearing his stories of Old Campus, and when he visits, we always walk past the law building. He later went on to be a Judge and serve on the state legislature. I was accepted through Early Action, and I knew that UGA would be my first choice of college; I wanted to experience Athens and UGA through my own eyes. It has been such a privilege sharing my own experiences with my family!

I chose to attend UGA because…

… of its culture of tradition and the Athens campus. Before attending UGA, I was introduced to some of these traditions: the Arch, football cheers and the Chapel Bell. Since my freshman year, I have learned more about the traditions, many of which we share with generations of prior students. The traditions link the past and the present, and they deliver a sense of community among the Bulldawg Nation. 
In addition, Athens has always fascinated me. I was born in the Netherlands and travel back to Europe often to visit my mom’s side of the family, and Athens reminds me of my European roots. Strolling downtown, enjoying the diversity of restaurants and shops, appreciating the architecture, and walking to classes are experiences that have touched me in more ways than I could have imagined.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I love going to the Delta Gamma sorority house to see all my sisters. I enjoy studying there, stopping by for lunch and just taking a pause in my day.

When I have free time, I like…

… to spend time with my family. I now realize, more than ever, the things that matter most in life. Some of the things I enjoy doing with my family include having meaningful conversations, spending time together, going for a hike, listening to the birds and playing with my dog. Simply, creating memories is the most important foundation of our lives.

The craziest thing I've done is…

I have been very fortunate to do a lot of travel throughout my time at the University of Georgia.

The summer after my sophomore year, I earned a scholarship through the Honors International Scholars Program to study in Peru with the UGA en España Medical Spanish Maymester. We traveled to the Andes Mountains in Cusco, hiked part of the Incan trail at Macchu Picchu, and explored alternative medicine the Amazon Rainforest. I also lived with a Peruvian family for three weeks while shadowing in pediatrics, emergency room, internal medicine and obstetrics/gynecology in rural clinics and hospitals.

After I caught the study abroad travel bug, I went to Australia and New Zealand the following summer through UGA Discover Abroad. I gained a new perspective on sustainability, and I discovered the relationship we have with nature through both its power and vulnerability. I traveled to many cities, including Queenstown, Sydney, Noosa and the Australian Outback. I swam with wild dusky dolphins and went scuba diving for the first time on the Great Barrier Reef!

A short two days after my return from the Land Down Under, I left for Sapelo and Skidaway Islands (off the coast of Savannah) with the University of Georgia Marine Sciences Coastal Summer program. I learned about and researched the salt marsh ecosystem in conjunction with the UGA Marine Institute, as well as the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. I accompanied the island turtle technician to find sea turtle nests, count eggs, and even relocate nests for conservation efforts and research.

But my craziest story was during my time in Peru on the first day shadowing in the field. We met the doctors and were told to leave all our belongings and load into the taxi they negotiated. We didn’t know where we were going, and it turned out we were shadowing pap smears in a female prison! These women, tough and hardened by their years behind bars, were scared and powerless. This day gave me insight into two aspects of medicine: scientific clinical knowledge and personal interaction through understanding the nature of people and their vulnerability. This experience made me want to learn more about medicine and one day to be the person who makes that difference for others. We even got to ride home in the back of the prison ambulance!

My favorite place to study is…

… the science library, Moore College, Two Story Coffee, Big City Bread Café, and my apartment overlooking the Oconee River.
Anywhere my puppy Ginger can tag along!

My favorite professor is…

… Dr. Karl Espelie and Dr. Alex Kojo Anderson.

I was first introduced to Dr. Espelie when I took his seminar in biology my sophomore year. He quickly became my advisor and has played a monumental role in where I am today. His dedication to his advisees is astounding; spending hours planning courses, schedules and just talking about the future. I saw him as not only an advisor, but also a professional mentor and personal support. His knowledge of each course and program goes above and beyond, and he ensured I would have the best experience possible here at UGA. He has helped me tremendously with the medical school application process, and I look forward to seeing him at my white coat ceremony.

Dr. Anderson was my professor for the UGA Residence Hall Learning Community my freshman year. Students in my Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Learning Community lived on the same floor in Creswell Hall. We enrolled in the same core classes, including the same chemistry labs, allowing me to make close friends beginning my first semester. We would eat breakfast together at the Old Bolton, walk to classes, and study together in groups, and volunteered together with Campus Kitchen as the second portion of our shared program. Dr. Anderson went on to be my faculty mentor for research under the head of obstetric anesthesiology at Emory Hospital. I worked with this physician to research post-caesarean pain management.

In addition, I would like to thank Elizabeth Sears from the Honors Program for all her continued support. She played a critical role in my career development and is eager to help students attain their professional goals.

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

… my great grandfather, Dr. Ed Irwin. He was an orthopedic surgeon for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and now that I am pursuing a medical career, I would love to hear about his life as a doctor in Atlanta and ask him a plethora of questions.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… cure brain cancer. I’m not sure if we could cure all cancer at once, but we could start with one type and knock it out, one glial cell at a time!

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… travel. I would pack my backpack and visit different destinations around the globe. First, I would love to go back to Australia and New Zealand to further explore this fascinating part of the world and enjoy more of the incredible nature it has to offer. I would continue my journey to places like Thailand, India, Africa and different parts of South America to do medical volunteer work and learn about the people.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

I strive to deliver quality health care to patients living in medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer is going to allow me to further this goal that I’ve begun here at the University of Georgia.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend Mercer University School of Medicine.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… volunteering at Mercy Health Center, a Christian clinic in Athens for uninsured patients, many of whom have no access to health care.  I welcome patients and register them in the online medical records system. I use my language skills to interact with the significant Spanish-speaking patients at Mercy. This position requires delivering information about the process of becoming a new patient, scheduling appointments, calling patients, verifying paperwork, giving prescriptions, translating pharmacy appointments, and answering any other questions they may have as their first point of contact. The people who come to Mercy are truly in need, and being a small part of their care has changed me and will be something I always carry.

Published Sunday,