Candace Flagg, who is graduating in May with a biological sciences degree, found and fulfilled a huge passion for service by volunteering with young people in the community during her time as an undergraduate. Her next step: medical school, after taking a year off to teach dancing.
Eleanor Roosevelt High School
B.S.A. in biological sciences
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
My undergraduate career at UGA has been one full of incredible experiences that have shaped the person I am today. As a freshman, I entered college knowing that the years ahead of me were going to be some of the most important in my life. The friends I have made and the close relationships I have developed with some of my professors reminds me every day that I made the right decision in coming down to the South to complete my degree. Once here, I was eager to get involved on campus and actively sought ways to make my mark.
Freshman year, I was a member of GA Daze, an organization that strives to increase campus diversity by hosting minority high school students for one weekend. I also entered the Honors Program in order to challenge myself and learn within smaller classroom settings.
My sophomore year, I was introduced to the Thomas Lay After School Program, a mentoring program that serves children from disadvantaged households. Since then, this program has grown quite dear to me and I have an innumerable amount of memories with the children that attend the program. I started out as a mentor that volunteered twice every week and decided I wanted to take on more responsibility. I became a head mentor during my junior year and was granted a position as co-executive director for this school year. While no easy job, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spend my time. Considering I devote up to 15 hours each week to the program, it’s no surprise to me that I constantly find myself thinking about the children and their families. When I think back to playing tag outside with the kids or even offering them a shoulder to cry on during tough times at home, I realize that Thomas Lay has been the most influential college experience I’ve had. Because of Thomas Lay, service has become a huge passion of mine. I, along with other members of the program, make it a personal responsibility to provide a stable environment for all 50 children and encourage them to pursue any dream, including higher education.
I’ve always known that I would pursue a career in medicine, but by junior year I was sure that I wanted to become a pediatrician. In addition to the hours I spent volunteering with kids at Thomas Lay, I also spent my summers shadowing in the Pediatric Specialty Care Clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I worked with a team of pediatric nephrologists and enjoyed interacting with their young patients.
Project FOCUS is another memorable highlight of my undergraduate career. Project FOCUS, or Fostering Our Community’s Understanding of Science, allowed me to work with children in a classroom setting and share my love of science with them. Twice a week, I attended Gaines Elementary School to teach science lessons in a second-grade classroom. As a student in Project FOCUS for three semesters, I have definitely made some lasting relationships with the children that attend Gaines Elementary School.
Family Ties to UGA:
Although my dad’s side of the family is from Georgia, I am the very first to attend UGA. Now, my family bleeds red and black!
I chose to attend UGA because…
When finishing high school, I was seeking a change of pace and wanted to attend a large university away from my hometown. When I toured UGA, I instantly fell in love with the beautiful campus and Bulldog spirit. I knew it would be tough being far away from home, but I also knew that UGA was exactly what I was looking for.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… run to Jittery Joe’s to grab some coffee before my morning classes. I also love spending time with my friends and walking around North Campus when the weather is warm.
When I have free time, I like…
During my free time, I am usually out to dinner with friends, having a Netflix marathon or most importantly, sleeping!
The craziest thing I've done is…
The craziest, and by far most embarrassing, thing I’ve ever done happened during an audition I went to for the Young Choreographer’s Series within the UGA dance department. A large part of the audition required improvisation, which I had never done before. As I made my way dancing across the floor, I got all the way to the other side and decided my final move would be the biggest grand battement I had ever done and WHAM, I fell flat on my bottom. I couldn’t help but to laugh at myself, and all the other dancers in the room clapped for me, which definitely made me feel better. Improv dancing brought me so far out of my comfort zone and to this day I can’t believe I was crazy enough to do it.
My favorite place to study is…
… in my room with my headphones in blasting music with a bag of Doritos.
My favorite professor is…
I have had the opportunity to work with amazing professors here at UGA and consider it truly special that some have had lasting impacts on my undergraduate experience. I met Karl Espelie my sophomore year and am thankful for it every day. Sitting in his office for hours at a time just to chat or while he carefully considers what courses I should take in order to be a competitive candidate for medical school proves Dr. Espelie’s dedication. He’s not just my adviser, but a great role model and friend. Dr. Espelie has such a passion for getting to know his students beyond just an adviser-advisee relationship and is always there when great advice is needed. I can honestly say my time at UGA would not have been the same without him and the doors he’s opened for me.
Another professor I admire is Maria Navarro. I’ve learned more from her “Fighting World Hunger and Poverty” class than any other class I’ve taken at UGA. Dr. Navarro is so enthusiastic in her teaching and engages students to think about global economic and health crises. She has given me a totally new perspective and has really inspired me to look for ways to serve disadvantaged communities abroad, and not just at home.
During my third year, I took two ballet classes from Janet Robertson. She is unlike any dance teacher I have ever had. She has a way of making you appreciate every small detail of your movement. Even though her ballet class was tough, it was so rewarding because I finally learned how to exude grace even when I was exhausted and ready to give up. Ms. Robertson wants each of her students to grow into beautiful dancers and beautiful people, too.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… Misty Copeland, a profound African-American ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre. Watching her dance is breathtaking, and while I’m nowhere close to her level of perfection, it would be an honor to sit down with her and ask, “How do you do it?”
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… pursue my medical education and dedicate my career to serving those who live in economically disadvantaged communities and lack adequate health care.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… travel across the world to experience a variety of rich cultures firsthand.
After graduation, I plan to…
… return to Maryland and work for one year as a dance teacher in the studio I took lessons from for 13 years. Afterward, I plan on attending medical school.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… losing my voice after screaming as loud as I could during the Georgia-LSU game. I will also remember the incredible friendships and connections I have made with so many people over the past four years. I would not go back and change one thing about my experiences at UGA, but rather will always cherish the fact that I’ve made lifelong friends along the way.