Amazing Students

Omar Martinez-Uribe

Omar Martinez-Uribe, a senior biology major, has been volunteering in the community, working with student organizations, conducting undergraduate research and representing his college throughout his UGA career. The next step for this avid Bulldog fan is medical school.

Hometown:

Fayetteville, Ga.

High School:

Fayette County High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology

Other degrees:

Minor in French

Expected graduation:

Spring 2015

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

After my first semester at UGA I entered the Honors Program through collegiate entry. I began volunteering for the Thomas Lay after-school program my freshman year and tried to make connections with many of the children from Clarke County.

The summer after my freshman year I worked at the UGA-Griffin campus with Patrick McCullough in the crop and soil sciences department. He was a great mentor. I really enjoyed getting to see a different type of scientific work and his experience made my time worthwhile. I even got to translate a few publications into Spanish.

During my sophomore year at UGA I was inducted into Alpha Epsilon Delta, the premedical honor society. I also began working with MEDLIFE. This is an amazing organization that aims to provide medicine, education and development to low-income families. I think it is important for minority students to serve in this type of organization because it is a way to serve as a representative. I enjoyed being a family head with this organization which entailed working with a wonderful group of students dedicated to their community and showing compassion to others.

In addition, I began working with the Student Academic Honesty Council my sophomore year. I believe that a degree from UGA is incredibly valuable, and I work to make sure students know the rules and regulations about academic honesty.

Before my junior year, I began working in the Infectious Disease Department with Julie Moore. I have been moving around on several different projects regarding the mechanisms behind placental malaria. I plan on writing a senior thesis next semester and hopefully can include all of my different projects in this paper!

I have been incredibly fortunate to become a part of the Franklin College ambassadors. We have an amazing coordinator, Roslyn Raley, and such cool student representatives. I have enjoyed many meetings with Dean Dorsey, and I have worked to make sure Franklin’s donors see what an amazing impact they make on all of UGA’s undergraduates. I’ve even had the opportunity to meet President Morehead and a few of Georgia’s lawmakers!

One of the latest things I am incredibly proud of is my participation in the Summer Educational Enrichment Program through Georgia Regents University. I was very fortunate to have been selected to spend seven weeks shadowing and learning from faculty and staff of GRU. I was able to see so many different types of surgeries and procedures, and I really enjoyed my experience. I have made lifelong friends, and I hope to see them as my colleagues in the future.

Family Ties to UGA:

I like to tell my friends that I have been bred a Georgia Bulldog because my immediate family adores Athens and the University of Georgia. It all started with my dad. He began a postdoctoral fellowship in plant pathology in Athens in fall 1999 and has been with the university since then. He is now a full professor at the UGA-Griffin campus. Anyone who meets him knows he lives and breathes for his Bulldogs.

My sister graduated from UGA with a B.S. in biology in 2009. (She is also an incredibly amazing student and the brains of our family). She may not be a big football fan, but she fell in love with the culture, the people and the activities offered through the university. She is a big reason why I decided to stay close to home and continue the Martinez-Uribe legacy at UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… I love it here. Honestly, there are so many reasons why I chose to attend UGA. One of the top reasons is because I love the campus. I grew up here in Athens, and I can still remember the places my dad would take me as a young boy. With my dad as a faculty member, I learned to navigate the halls of the Miller Plant Sciences Building, I learned whom I could bother in order to get a snack, and I learned about Sanford Stadium and the heralded history of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Another big reason I chose UGA is because of the people and programs. In high school, I was a part of the Young Scholars Program through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and I got to see how UGA operates. I met professors and met some future classmates. I even traveled to Costa Rica to see the study abroad campus there. I really believe that my experiences with the Young Scholars Program cemented my decision.

My last reason for attending UGA is because of the amazing history in sports. I grew up watching David Pollack and David Greene “Between the Hedges,” and it made a huge impact on me. I think deep down I chose UGA because I wanted to see my Bulldogs win an SEC championship while I was a student.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

One of my favorite things to do on campus is talk with my friends. I can spend hours talking with people, and that’s what you will most likely see me doing. I love that I’ve met so many people, and I can usually find a familiar face anywhere on campus. I think UGA does an amazing job at making students feel welcome and making it feel like our huge campus is a small one.

I enjoy sitting in Tate Café with my girlfriend and enjoy a sweet tea while watching all the students bustling around.

I love being in Sanford Stadium. Being with more than 90,000 of your friends is an amazing experience, and even as a senior I still get goose bumps every game right before kickoff. Anyone who attends UGA needs to experience it at least once.

Still my favorite thing to do on campus is eat. We are blessed to have such amazing facilities to grab lunch or dinner. I definitely miss being on the meal plan, and sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to a dining hall and spend a few hours eating and chatting.

When I have free time, I like…

… to do many different things; it sort of depends on my mood. I love to play tennis, and if I feel like being more athletic I will head to the court and work on my serve. I invite my friends and have even played with a professor. It’s fun to hit the ball and release some tension between studying and club meetings.

I also really love movies and television. I marathon entire series (as my roommate knows), and if it’s a 30-minute sitcom I fit it right in my schedule between dinner and study time. I attribute this hobby to my sister who introduced me to Vision Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix and many of my favorite movies.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… when I went to a UGA football game with a fractured foot. I spent my Friday night in the emergency room, and I knew I didn’t want to miss the UGA versus South Carolina game. My mom and dad came from Fayetteville to make sure I was fine and were adamant about me not going to the game. Luckily for me, I was misdiagnosed and was told I had a slight foot sprain and could make the trip to Sanford. The next day, I hauled my crutches from East Campus and made it all the way to the student section. We won the game, and I enjoyed every minute of my time in Sanford. On the way back was when I realized my mistake. I somehow made it up the huge mountain of stairs and crutched my way to Ag Hill. I was exhausted, and I didn’t know how I was going to make it back to my car. I told my friends to go on without me (I tend to be a bit dramatic), but a sweet elderly man, a UGA employee, pulled off to the side of the road and offered to give me a ride back to the parking lot. I graciously accepted! It was touching and showed me that I can feel safe and cared for at UGA. Still, I probably won’t attend a football game again if I am on crutches.

My favorite place to study is…

… in the meeting rooms on the third floor of Coverdell. Coverdell is beautiful, and the big windows everywhere make you feel a little bit more relaxed if you are stressed. Ms. Stephanie on the third floor is always there to welcome you with a warm smile. During work hours you have to be careful because a lot of the research labs will meet during the day, but after 5 p.m. hardly anyone ever disturbs you. I love it because I can sprawl out and have plenty of room for all my things. The chairs are awesome, and you can even bring snacks.

My favorite professor is…

… Karl Espelie. He is the man, the “Larry Munson” of advising, the Gandalf to mentoring, and one of the most interesting men in the world. He is such an amazing person, and the care he shows to each student is unparalleled. He always welcomes students into his office and will tailor his advising and mentoring to each individual student. He is also an amazing cook and has a vast knowledge of everything related to science, food and culture.

I was so fortunate to have been introduced to him when I was in high school, and he has made such a significant impact on my family’s lives. He is one of the biggest reasons why my sister is now in her residency program and the main reason I am applying to medical school.

I really enjoy my conversations with him, and you learn so much about the other amazing students around the university from him. He loves to mention the name of a student because he is proud of them, and that is really touching. He treats each of us like his family, and I cherish every minute I have with him.

I also have to mention a few other absolutely amazing professors. My research professor,  Julie Moore, is an amazing researcher, teacher and person. She was even recently mentioned on “Focus on Faculty.” Demba Sarr from my lab is also such a caring person, and I would have abandoned research a long time ago if he didn’t keep my head straight. Maria Navarro is also a huge influence on me. She balances so much and still finds time to take her students to dinner every now and then. UGA is lucky to have her. Lastly, Luke Naeher was my Freshman Odyssey professor and one of my favorite professors. His research shows how compassionate he is, and I still remember many of the lessons I learned in this small-group course.

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

… tennis hero and star Rafael Nadal. He is my childhood hero, and if he is playing I am most likely watching him tear up the court. I have been known to watch matches in class and even at 4 in the morning. I can’t help but scream “RAFA” every time I watch him play. He shows so much determination and motivation, and I respect his ability to remain levelheaded when things aren’t going his way. Even if he is down two sets, he will play his absolute hardest to make sure he wins. He respects his family and remains humble even though he is one of the best of all time. He always hugs his opponent and says a few kind words to them if he wins or if he loses. It would just be an awesome experience to get to practice with him and then enjoy a nice big plate of “paella” for dinner.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… write and direct an Academy Award-winning movie. I love movies, and as director I could finally meet some of my favorite actors! I would cast Zach Braff, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell and Rachel McAdams to film a comedy. The first three actors are some of the funniest and best in the business, and Rachel is my celebrity crush.

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

… open several restaurants in Paris, France. I love France, and it is a dream of mine to be the owner of the top restaurant in arguably the capital of cuisine. I would bring a fun fusion between Mexican and French food, something most of the world has never seen.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend medical school. I have been dreaming of becoming a doctor ever since I was a little boy, and hopefully medical school will allow me to make my dream come true. I know it’s going to be a big commitment, but I am so excited to have the opportunity to help others!

I also really want to visit my family in Mexico. I haven’t had the chance to see my grandparents in almost 11 years. I miss them terribly, and I am saving up money so that I can see them before I begin another big stage of my life. I also know I have a lot of eating to do, and I plan on gaining the “Mexico 15” (my version of the freshman 15) while I’m with my family.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

This occurred in the second month of my freshman year. I lived in Boggs Hall, and since it was such a small dorm, all of the residents became very close. A group of my friends knew I loved Coldplay and also knew that I had never attended a concert before. They all bundled some money together and bought me a ticket to see Coldplay at Music Midtown for my birthday! I was so stunned and thankful. I nearly cried in front of everyone, and this is something I can never forget. To think that a group of 11 college students thought about me and wanted to make my birthday special was very heartwarming. I don’t have enough space to thank each of them individually, but they all made a big difference in my life and I won’t ever forget that.

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