Amazing Students

Miller Singleton

Miller Singleton has traveled to distant countries to begin her trek as a physician “so that I can have the capacity to serve others through medicine.” But her greatest experience has been right here on campus working with UGA Miracle.

Hometown:

Camilla, Georgia

High School:

Westwood Schools

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology, B.S. in psychology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

The very first moment that I set foot onto UGA’s campus was in July 2012 when I moved into Creswell Hall to begin Freshman College. In the sweltering heat and with sweat dripping down my face, I gazed up at the Green Monster and said to myself, “Miller, you are definitely not in Camilla anymore.” Born and raised in the small agricultural town whose population matched that of my freshman class, it took me quite a while to get used to the absence of farm equipment on the roads or cotton fields spanning for miles. I had many reservations about attending the University of Georgia not necessarily because of its size, but because of my fear of the unknown, of being thrust into a place that was so different from what I was accustomed. I honestly believed that I would not like UGA, but I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. I fell in love with this university because of the wonderful people who poured into me and taught me what it is like to be a part of the Bulldog Nation. UGA is a place where students are anchored by a sense of purpose, a purpose that is fueled by passion. I am incredibly thankful to be in such a wonderful place that allows me to chase my passions every day.
My freshman year I became involved with UGA Miracle, a student-led philanthropy that champions our Miracle families, supports Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and engages our campus. UGA Miracle is not just an organization; it is a family composed of over 1,000 students who want to make their college experience about something greater than themselves. My freshman and sophomore years, I was on the Family Relations Committee where I had the privilege of serving as the family pal for Mr. Mike, Mrs. Kelli, Mary Elizabeth, Michala, Marlee Anne and Abe Hopkins, a family who has truly changed my life. I served on the 2014-2015 Executive Board as one of the Family Relations co-chairs, and I am ecstatic to serve in the same position this year. I cherish having the opportunity to form relationships with all of our incredible Miracle families and surround myself with extraordinary people who unite this campus under the goal of bettering the lives of children. I am also a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, and I am thankful to be surrounded by incredible women who are involved in such a wide range of activities on this campus and commit themselves to serving others through multiple philanthropic causes. During my junior year, I started working at the Visitors Center, which is correctly referred to as the happiest place on campus. I am so grateful to have bosses and fellow staff members who are such remarkable ambassadors of this university. I love giving tours because I get to create a special experience for potential baby Bulldogs in the hopes that I can help them find a college home like I have found here at UGA.

According to Mahatma Ghandi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and I have strived to make service a staple of my college experience. Since my freshman year, I have volunteered as a mentor with Shop with a Bulldawg, an organization whose mission is to serve Athens by bringing joy and hope to children during the holidays. I currently volunteer with Affinis Hospice in which I have the opportunity to serve as a companion and listen to the incredible stories of my patients. My idea of service transcends borders, and UGA has afforded me numerous opportunities to travel on both medical mission and study abroad trips. The summer after my sophomore year I studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand where I was able to apply the science I was learning in the classroom to real lab settings, such as the dolphin-filled waters in Kaikoura, New Zealand, or the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia. I have traveled on three medical mission trips in which I have gained a love and appreciation for the culture of medicine in Central and South American countries. During my 2014 and 2015 spring breaks, I participated in a MEDLIFE trip to Lima, Peru, and I led an International Service Learning trip to San José, Costa Rica. During both of my trips, I helped to establish mobile clinics where I shadowed physicians, assisted in building houses and staircases, and helped to educate the local community about overall hygiene and health. In my most recent and longest medical mission trip, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador, to participate in a monthlong immersion program with Child Family Health International that allowed me to shadow physicians in various health care settings, from large public hospitals to small traditional medicine clinics. I also took medical Spanish classes in order to improve my communication skills while in the clinics.

In regards to academics, I have enjoyed the small, intimate feel of the Honors Program through which I have been able to take specialized Honors classes and serve on the Honors Program Student Council. I received funding for my trip to Quito, Ecuador, through the Honors International Scholarship Program. Additionally, I had the opportunity to perform Honors research for one semester under Kevin McCully in his Non-Invasive Muscle Physiology Lab. My research project focused on using near infrared spectroscopy technology to measure skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in people with mitochondrial myopathies. At the end of the semester, I assisted in a poster presentation of our initial data at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium. In addition to the Honors program, I have been initiated into multiple honor societies including Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Delta (the premedical honor society), Order of Omega (the Greek honor society), and Blue Key Honor Society. I currently serve as the secretary for Blue Key. I am also the 2015 recipient of the R.J. Ward Memorial Scholarship through Alpha Epsilon Delta.

Current Employment:

University of Georgia Visitors Center

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first person in my family to attend UGA, but nevertheless, my family members have quickly become avid Bulldog fans and have expanded their wardrobes to include red and black. Although I am the first Bulldog in the family, I am certainly not the last. My sister, Morgan, is a freshman here, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share this special year with her. I cannot wait to see what these next four years hold for her!

I chose to attend UGA because…

… as a senior in high school, I rested upon the hope that I would receive a scholarship to play basketball in college. Basketball had been such an integral part of my life, and I feared having to relinquish it after high school. My fears were realized when those doors closed, and the door to UGA remained open. However, I have never been more grateful for those closed doors because they led me to my home at the University of Georgia. I always knew that I wanted to attend a college where I could be a part of a family and where I would be surrounded by people who would help me to grow as a person. I have found all of that and more here at UGA; it is certainly a place where I would not trade one minute here for four years anywhere else.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… attend any and every UGA athletic event. My goal is to attend at least one of each athletic event before I graduate, and I am so close to completing my list! From Sanford Stadium to Stegeman Coliseum to Foley Field and everywhere in between, I can be found cheering on the Dawgs. There is something so special about standing next to a complete stranger who is wearing the same colors, singing the same songs and cheering the same cheers that I am! It is a true testament to the fact that we are all united by a university with a storied tradition of excellence. I am so proud to be a part of the Bulldog Nation!

When I have free time, I like…

… to explore our campus and our community! I enjoy spending time in the Founders Memorial Garden, throwing the Frisbee around on Herty Field or running through the trails at the intramural fields. Athens has such a rich culture of its own, and I love trying out new restaurants and shops downtown or going on spontaneous adventures with friends in search of hidden treasures that are just waiting to be discovered. Regardless of where I am or what I am doing, being surrounded by good friends makes for the best times.

The craziest thing I've done is…

I have developed an incredible thirst for adventure since coming to UGA, and I have been fortunate to travel and experience some of the beauty that this world has to offer. During my time abroad, I have surfed the sand dunes of the Atacama Desert in Peru, hiked against what seemed to be gale-force winds to reach a glacial lake at Aoraki/Mount Cook in New Zealand, and gone scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

In my most recent adventure in Ecuador, I hiked up Cotopaxi, an active volcano located along the Andes Mountains. The hike was almost entirely uphill, and my friends and I were constantly being pelted by ice and debris because the winds were so strong. In fact, there was a point in which I thought I was going to blow off the volcano. Prior to hiking Cotopaxi, I had lived in Ecuador for about three weeks, and I thought that I was acclimated to the high elevation. Little did I know that the hike would take us up to a glacier about 5,200 meters above sea level. When I learned about respiratory alkalosis in Paula Lemons’s biochemistry class, I had no idea that I would experience it on the top of Cotopaxi. Upon our descent from the glacier and our arrival at base camp, we hopped on mountain bikes and rode the rest of the way down the volcano. As I looked back in the distance and saw the top of Cotopaxi, I was humbled and amazed by the fact that I had the opportunity to experience one of God’s most beautiful creations. It is an experience that I will cherish forever.

My favorite place to study is…

Two Story Coffee in Five Points. I discovered this gem my sophomore year, and ever since then, I have made it my second home. Two Story not only has some of the best coffee in Athens, but also boasts an incredibly warm environment that makes even studying for the MCAT enjoyable. My go-to order is an iced coffee with a little soymilk; I highly recommend it!

My favorite professor is…

… the one and only Karl Espelie. He should definitely be one of “UGA’s Amazing Professors.” As a sophomore venturing into the frightening world of “Organic Chemistry,” meeting Dr. Espelie was one of the biggest blessings of my college career. Dr. Espelie has this incredible ability to make his students feel as if they are more than a number; he treats each of us like we are a part of his family. I have never met a more kind and compassionate individual who possesses such a genuine interest in helping his students achieve their dreams. Whenever I walk into his office, I always cherish our three-hour conversations about my upcoming class schedule, our favorite Shakespearean plays, how much we love the Golden Bowl at the Grit, and of course, the smell of the South Georgia peanut dirt. When I look around his office at the pictures of his advisees from years past, I am reminded how lucky I am to know a man who has been changing students’ lives for years; he is definitely changing my life every day. The journey to medical school is difficult to say the least, and at times, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Espelie is that light; he is an encourager, he is a mentor, and most importantly, he is a friend. He has truly helped to shape my college experience, and I am forever grateful for his guidance and support.

I have also been privileged to meet two other amazing professors who have invested in me during my time at UGA. I had the wonderful opportunity to research under Kevin McCully in his Non-Invasive Muscle Physiology Lab. Dr. McCully is incredibly passionate about cultivating a sense of curiosity within his students and helping them learn through exploration. He constantly challenged me to grow as a scientist, and he was always there to lend a helping hand or answer any questions that I had. During my time in Australia and New Zealand, I was extremely fortunate to experience nature with Mark Farmer. Dr. Farmer inspires his students to see the beauty of this world and the endless possibilities that it holds. Dr. Farmer possesses an immense knowledge of the science of this planet and how we as humans interact with the other organisms that inhabit it. His teachings have not only sparked my sense of adventure, but also kindled my desire to become an advocate for the well-being of this planet.

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

… coach John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach who won 10 national championships during his time at UCLA. Coach Wooden had this phenomenal ability to awaken possibility in others, and he used coaching as a vehicle through which he could inspire his players to be the best people they could be. While I was studying for the MCAT, I took my breaks to watch Ted Talks by coach Wooden. My favorite talk was entitled “The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding,” and in it, coach Wooden’s words were a great source of motivation during my time of studying. Coach Wooden led his teams with humility, compassion and grace, and I will always strive to live by those values that coach Wooden exemplified.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” — Coach John Wooden

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… establish medical clinics in underserved areas around the world. Being from a rural area, I understand the dire need for medical professionals in such areas. While volunteering at a migrant farmworker’s clinic near my hometown, I saw such a powerful hope that came from the promise of medicine. I have observed the same glimmer of hope in the people of Peru, Costa Rica and Ecuador while on medical mission trips.

Medicine has the power to transcend borders and break barriers, and I want to act as an agent of change who shifts the paradigm of medicine among underserved populations. By establishing adequate medical clinics, I can create a small ripple, which combined with the ripples of others, can create a wave of change that can improve people’s present quality of life and promote the longevity of their health.

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

… create my own traveler’s show on the Discovery Channel and travel to all seven continents. Guided by a strong sense of wanderlust, I would love to meet new people, learn new languages and experience the incredible splendor of this beautiful world.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend medical school and chase my dream of becoming a physician so that I can have the capacity to serve others through medicine. My parents always told me that hard work was the fuel that kept dreams alive, and I etched this adage into my mind when I resolved to become a physician. I also hope to continue my travels abroad on medical mission trips so that I can immerse myself in the different cultures of medicine around the world.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… Dance Marathon 2015 when UGA Miracle made history by raising $683,251.15 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and championing 64 Miracle families. Dance Marathon is a 24-hour celebration in which students gather in Tate Grand Hall to celebrate a year of miracles for children who were served by CHOA. When the final fundraising total was revealed, the room erupted in loud cheers and applause. The Executive Board came together in a huge dog pile of tears and excitement, and in the midst of everything, our executive director, Ryan Garrahan, fell to the ground at the bottom of the pile. Perhaps my most vivid memory from the event is when I looked out from the stage and saw a sea of students with a fire in their tired eyes. These incredible students had united to dance and to stand for the kids who could not. As we came together for the Circle of Hope, I will never forget the looks of pure joy on our Miracle children’s faces as they went around the circle and cut off the hospital bracelets that the students were wearing. I will always remember the day that we as a campus created a heartbeat that demanded to be felt and contributed to the movement that is Dance Marathon.

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