Amazing Students

Sydney Mohr

Sydney Mohr, a senior majoring in biology and psychology, has racked up impressive honors, been involved in research and participated in medical experiences home and abroad since she started at UGA. But it is her love of dancing, which led to her involvement with the Dance Dawgs, that has made her time as an undergraduate student complete.

Hometown:

Suwanee, GA

High School:

Lambert High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology and B.S. in psychology

Expected graduation:

May 2017

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

During my undergraduate career, I have taken advantage of many opportunities at the University of Georgia. At UGA, being a part of the Honors Program with its smaller class sizes and excellent professors/advisors has been invaluable. In addition, I am a member of multiple honors societies including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Order of Omega and Alpha Epsilon Delta. However, my undergraduate experience would not have been complete without my involvement in UGA Dance Dawgs, undergraduate research and my sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha.

Having danced since the age of 6, I was thrilled to earn a spot on the NCAA-sanctioned dance team at UGA. It gives me the opportunity to represent my university while giving back my talent and love for dance. As a four-year member of the Dance Dawgs and a three-time captain, I perform at men’s and women’s home basketball games, Gymdog meets, some soccer and volleyball games and serve as an ambassador for UGA at many appearances. I have been fortunate enough to dance at both men’s and women’s SEC tournaments, NCAA tournaments, and travel to Las Vegas for the Pro Action Dance Convention. Being on the dance team has been an honor. The constant support of my teammates and the extraordinary connection I now have to UGA makes being a Dance Dawg a special experience I will cherish forever. 

As an athlete and pre-med student, I specifically sought out a research project at UGA where my passion for fitness would cross over into a research lab. I found this opportunity in Dr. Nathan Jenkins’ lab in the kinesiology department where I have worked on two projects since spring 2016. The purpose of the first project, which was conducted in conjunction with Dr. Claire de La Serre’s department of foods and nutrition lab, determined the effects of metabolic endotoxemia on cardiovascular and perivascular adipose tissue inflammation and how cannabinoid receptor type-1 modulates LPS-induced inflammation. Our newest research project, in Dr. Jenkins’ lab, explores the effect of exercise on circulating angiogenic cells and the differences of those effects on men and women. As hesitant as I was to get involved with research early on in my college career, the knowledge and experience gained from the experience has proven invaluable. Not only will these lab experiences better prepare me for medical school and future research, but the relationships I developed with my research lab professors and graduate students have provided me with a constant support system as well as a contagious excitement for research. This fall, I received a research assistantship through UGA and look forward to presenting my research at the CURO Symposium this spring.

Being the first in my family to join a sorority, I had no idea what to expect during recruitment my first year at UGA. However, becoming a member of Zeta Tau Alpha has ultimately been one of my most cherished college experiences. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a month into my college career. So ironically, joining ZTA, whose philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness, was a blessing in a way that I never anticipated. Dealing with the emotion and fear of my mom’s unforeseen diagnosis as a new member of ZTA, I quickly came to understand the love and compassion our members share with each other and for our philanthropy. In addition to being actively and emotionally involved in our philanthropy events, ZTA has also provided me with the opportunity to hold multiple leadership roles on the recruitment executive board and new member council. I have also been able to share my love for dance by being on our SDT Greek Grind team every year and serving as a choreographer for the competition my senior year.

Outside of my UGA experiences, I have actively participated in medical experiences in the United States and abroad. The summer before my junior year, I went on a two-week medical relief trip with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children. I chose FIMRC because of its commitment to the long-term improvement of health in the communities it serves. I was able to shadow in the local hospital, take vitals in the rural clinics and help with door-to-door initiatives. Along with the medical experience I gained, I enjoyed spending time with the children in the Dominican Republic. I witnessed trust being built through my honest interactions with them and now understand the importance of doctors developing meaningful relationships with their patients.

Closer to home, my medical experiences include shadowing a variety of doctors across Georgia and volunteering at Mercy Health Center. Mercy Health Center is a free Christian-based clinic in Athens that serves the uninsured who are near or below the poverty line. As a check-in volunteer, I enjoy meeting the patients and hearing their stories. My hope is that my interactions with them provide a positive experience where they feel genuinely cared for and valued. I am grateful for and humbled by my years of service at Mercy Health Center and being able to give back to Athens, a community in constant need of student support.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first person in my family to attend UGA. However, my younger sister Grace followed in my footsteps and is now a sophomore at UGA and a fellow Dance Dawg and Zeta Tau Alpha. Since both of their daughters are now Dawgs, my parents are frequently spotted in Athens, decked out in their red and black attending as many UGA football and basketball games as they can.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… I was not only offered two academic scholarships (the Zell B. Miller Scholarship and UGA’s Baldwin Scholarship) but also admittance into UGA’s Honors Program and a spot on the UGA dance team. Knowing my goal was to attend medical school someday, I couldn’t afford to pass up UGA’s generous offer and the opportunity to be a part of the Honors Program. In addition to providing me financial security, I firmly believed the University of Georgia was the best fit for me. It was the large school with competitive Division I athletics I desired that could provide me with small niche experiences like the Honors Program, the Dance Dawgs, undergraduate research and Greek life that I needed.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… walk through North Campus and dance at UGA basketball games. I enjoy experiencing life every day on campus with a set of incredible roommates, a family of supportive teammates, and the many lifelong friends I’ve made here at Georgia. And there’s nothing like having my little sister, and best friend, right here with me to experience UGA life together.

When I have free time, I like…

… to catch up on my sleep, hang out with my friends and family, play games/cards, watch sports and old home videos, drink coffee and discuss life with my roomies, enjoy some of Athens’ best restaurants and read a good book.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… travel to the Dominican Republic for a medical relief trip when I had never been out of the country before, had never traveled alone and did not speak a word of Spanish. I took bucket showers, rode in the back of a pickup truck alongside of its gasoline tank and slept under mosquito nets in a house without an enclosed ceiling. I discovered how different and complex politics, health care and life in general are in foreign countries. To add to my lack of travel experience and my communication deficiencies, my cellphone broke during the trip, which made traveling back to the United States quite an experience. Thank goodness for a friendly stranger in the Miami airport who let me borrow his phone to call home. Despite that, my trip to the Dominican Republic was an amazing experience I will never forget. I immersed myself into a different culture, despite my apprehensions and fears, and came out learning as much about myself as the endearing people of the Dominican Republic.

My favorite place to study is…

… Rankin, the student-athlete academic center located behind Stegeman Coliseum. My teammates often joke that if anyone needs to know Rankin’s operating hours, I am the person to ask. I have continued to study at Rankin, even though as an upperclassman I am no longer required by athletics to study there. This amazing facility is the perfect place to study and catch up with my teammates while taking a study break.

My favorite professor is…

… Dr. Karl Espelie. I met Dr. Espelie through several of my pre-med friends and he generously offered to be my advisor when I was in his honors biology seminar. Dr. Espelie is well known on campus, especially among science majors and particularly pre-med students. His reputation precedes him as the hardest working proponent for his students. He goes all in and never hesitates to spend an hour on the phone or in his office with you. For that matter, he’ll spend an hour with a friend of yours that needs advice even if he has never met the student before. He never says no when a student needs help, making him one of the most selfless people I know. Obviously, being pre-med is not an easy path and my path would have been considerably more difficult had it not been for Dr. Espelie’s constant encouragement and confidence in me. His knowledge and advice have been irreplaceable and I am forever grateful for the connections he has provided me to other pre-med students and mentors that have come before me at UGA. I am truly blessed to have this kind, generous man as my mentor, advocate and supporter.

I would be remiss in not mentioning my research professors, Dr. Nathan Jenkins and Dr. Claire de La Serre, who have instilled confidence and trust in me. They welcomed me with open arms into their research families and I have grown as a student and scholar while working with them and their teams. Through my work with both these professors, I gained a fall 2016 CURO research assistantship that has helped supplement my cost of applying to medical schools.

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

… I would love to share it with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. I would love to hear from them about their personal journey to the White House and how they persevered through all of the obstacles along the way. I am inspired by President Obama’s success, his drive, and his resolve over the last eight years. I enjoy President Obama’s wit and positive demeanor and know our conversation would be not only insightful but also entertaining. I admire Michelle Obama for her intellect, her heart and her compassion. I would love to simply spend time with her and heed any advice she has in regards to juggling career and family and how to handle the difficult task of being respected as a smart, powerful woman. It would certainly be a humbling experience to spend time with them, as I admire them both for their professional successes as well as the personal attributes that make them wonderful parents and amazing people.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… cure cancer. Having personally experienced the traumatic effects cancer has emotionally, physically and financially on patients and their loved ones, I would love for nothing more than to cure the world of this dreadful disease.

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

… travel the world. I have only had one opportunity to leave the country thus far but I would love to visit more countries, experience more cultures and hopefully, as a physician, help patients who do not have access to health care.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend medical school and work toward my goal of becoming a compassionate and difference-making physician.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… is dancing/cheering for the Dawgs in the men’s Southeastern Conference basketball tournament quarterfinals in Nashville, Tennessee, against South Carolina. It was a close game against our rivals whom we had already defeated twice in the regular season. This was the second day my teammates and I were fortunate enough to dance on the court for fans from all across the SEC. The entire game was intensely competitive but I will never forget the last few determining seconds of the game. I was sitting courtside, screaming loudly and praying intently for our team to pull out the win, when one of our players successfully stole the ball and drew a foul. The place went crazy; my teammates and I were jumping up and down waving our poms in excitement, the UGA bench was unhinged, and coach Fox literally fell to the ground. Our player made the game-winning free throw and UGA advanced to the semifinal game against Kentucky.

Published Sunday,