Amazing Students

Rebecca McInroe

Rebecca McInroe has snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, served as a club president, taught Athens second-graders, conducted research in two labs and held three internships. The future veterinarian credits UGA for making it possible to pursue all these passions.

Hometown:

Peachtree City, Ga.

High School:

McIntosh High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology with a Spanish minor

Expected graduation:

Spring 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I love the diversity of UGA; there is a program, organization or opportunity for anyone with any interest. At UGA, I have been able to pursue all of my passions: academics, travel, service and veterinary medicine. I never could have imagined the incredible friends I have made, the supportive professors I have met or the amazing experiences I have had, but it reminds me how fortunate I am to have attended the University of Georgia. 

Being part of UGA’s Honors Program has had a huge impact on my college career. Enjoying the benefits of smaller classes, engaging professors and the community of other Honors students was incredibly helpful and made UGA feel much smaller. Academically, I am a recipient of the Zell Miller Scholarship and the UGA One Scholarship.

It sounds cliché and slightly exaggerated, but studying abroad was a life-changing experience. While trekking through New Zealand and Australia, each day brought a new adventure and something that made me think, “Wow! How lucky am I to be doing/seeing this?” In that one month, I learned so much about myself and developed a love for adventure and an even greater love for travel.

Of the organizations I am part of, the Pre-Veterinary Club has been the most important to me. Serving as shelter medicine liaison, fundraising chair and now being president has been a highlight of my time in undergrad. With all the responsibility of running a large club, raising over $8,000 for the Athens Area Humane Society and being a leader/mentor for other pre-veterinary students makes it worthwhile.

Service has always been an integral part of my life. I was able to combine this passion with my loves for teaching and working with children. My junior year I took Project FOCUS, a course that allows science majors to teach elementary school science classes. Teaching second-graders was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, things I have done. I also volunteer at Butterfly Dreams Farm Therapeutic Riding Facility. Here, I assist with hippotherapy lessons for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism and Down’s syndrome. Additionally, I tutor kindergartners at Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela, an after-school program for the Pinewoods community.

Studying at a research university like UGA has allowed me to work in two research labs. My sophomore year, I joined Dr. Tamas Nagy’s lab in the Department of Pathology at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. We conducted breast cancer research by studying the role of specific proteins, such as focal adhesion kinase, in the development of mammary tumors in genetically engineered mice. In fall 2015, I joined John Maerz’s lab to learn more about wildlife medicine. Currently we are investigating the neurological and toxic effects of an invasive species of plant on tadpoles.

Some of my best memories from college are from my veterinary internships. Since my freshman year, I have interned at UGA’s College of Vet Med’s Community Practice Clinic as a veterinary assistant. I helped to start and now run their volunteer program so other pre-veterinary students can gain hands-on experience in small animal medicine. The summer after my sophomore year, I interned with Southern Crescent Equine Services, an ambulatory large animal veterinary practice. That summer I gained practical skills and learned about prevention and treatment of common ailments in horses, goats, donkeys and cattle. This past summer, I interned with UGA College of Vet Med’s Zoology Service on the Wildlife Treatment Crew. There, I learned how to create and execute a variety of treatment plans for wildlife patients such as baby birds, deer and turtles. Not only did I learn so much from these internships, but they consistently reminded me why I want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

When I look back on my college career, I will remember the excitement of acing an Ochem test and getting accepted into veterinary school. But more importantly, I will remember the friendships, relationships with professors and other amazing opportunities that have shaped who I am today.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first one in my family to attend UGA. My older brother recently graduated from Georgia Tech, so although we are a “house divided,” my family adopted the Bulldog spirit and a love for anything red and black with me.

I chose to attend UGA because…

UGA was always at the top of my list because of its high-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine. I knew attending a university with a veterinary school would provide me with a ton of opportunities to learn more about this profession. When touring UGA for the first time, I quickly realized it was the school for me. From North Campus, to Myers quadrangle, to the Trial Gardens behind Snelling, I loved that beauty and charm could be found throughout campus. In fact, right after my visit, I canceled all tours of other universities because I knew UGA was where I belonged.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… a walk through North Campus or the Founders Memorial Garden is the perfect way for me to de-stress after a long week. My other favorite part of being on campus is running into friends and classmates. Even if just catching up for a couple minutes between classes, I love that although UGA is a large school, you still run into friends and people you know regularly.

When I have free time, I like…

… to explore Athens with friends. Whether shopping, attending an event or trying a new restaurant, there is always something to do in this city. But regardless of what I am doing, spending time with my friends at UGA makes for a day well spent.

The craziest thing I've done is…

The month I spent studying abroad in New Zealand and Australia was packed with crazy experiences and adventures. Hikes through rainforests, among glaciers and around the Outback allowed me to see sights I never dreamed of. I got to swim with hundreds of wild dolphins and horseback ride between mountains and alongside rivers. I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, arguably the most beautiful and abundant reef in the world. After a two-hour scuba diving lesson, I went on my first dive with manta rays and sharks. On this trip, I did and saw so many things I never thought I would get to experience, so thank you UGA and UGA Discover Abroad for presenting this once in a lifetime trip!

My favorite place to study is…

… with no distractions at my desk in my apartment. However, the science library is my go-to on-campus study spot if I am studying with friends or between classes.

My favorite professor is…

I want to profusely thank Karl Espelie for all of his encouragement and support. Gaining him as not only an advisor but confidant, mentor and friend was one of the best things that has happened to me at UGA. Dr. Espelie treats all of his advisees as his No. 1 priority. Making us all feel like a part of his family, he is consistently willing to spend hours meticulously choosing courses or discussing our future plans and concerns. His knowledge of UGA programs and courses is unbelievable and so many of my college achievements are thanks to his urging and guidance. Dr. Espelie has influenced and touched the lives of so many, and I feel very grateful to be included in this group. 

John Maerz’s enthusiasm made my study abroad experience in Australia and New Zealand unforgettable. Now as my research mentor, Dr. Maerz challenges me to “think with a research mind” and pursue greater goals. Hours spent discussing animal behavior, field work techniques and working in academia have shaped how I view my future.

Dr. Ira Roth from UGA’s College of Vet Med’s Community Practice Clinic took me in as an eager, but clearly clueless, freshman and has mentored me throughout the last three years. His love for veterinary medicine is infectious. Always willing to explain procedures and treatment plans, Dr. Roth’s guidance and teaching has been immensely valuable to me.

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

… Bill Nye (the Science Guy). Watching his show was a favorite after-school activity for my brother and me as kids, and it instilled a love for science in me at a young age. I would like to thank him for that. It would also be fascinating to hear his philosophy on how to make science fun, accessible and interesting to students.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… find a cure for cancer. Two of my closest friends have parents who battled cancer and many others have had grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who were afflicted with this devastating disease. Assisting with breast cancer research revealed the paradox of how advanced our cancer treatments and diagnostics are yet how much more there is to learn and understand about this disease.

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

… travel, of course! I have been fortunate to visit various countries, but there is so much more to discover! There is nothing I love more than exploring a new city, trying different cuisines and learning about other cultures.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend veterinary school with an area of emphasis in small animal medicine.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

Teaching second-graders through Project FOCUS was incredibly humbling and challenging, but it was one of the most worthwhile things I did at UGA. I will never forget the feeling I got when a student excitedly asked me, “What are we doing in science today, Miss M?” These kids have faced greater challenges than I could imagine, and they inspired me by their resilience and love for learning. I loved it so much that I taught the same students for a second semester. Since then, I have started speaking to high school classes about being a pre-veterinary student and different careers in veterinary medicine. After this, I realized that teaching was something I wanted to incorporate into my career as a veterinarian. I hope to visit local schools and educate the students on topics of veterinary medicine and animal welfare and maybe, eventually, return to work in academia.

Published Sunday,