Victoria Moreira, a senior majoring in biology and psychology and a future medical doctor, says she will leave UGA “stronger” with a rich experience both on campus and in the community.
McIntosh High School
B.S. in biology, B.S. in psychology
University highlights, achievements and awards:
I have learned that in just four short years at UGA, you grow and change in all of the ways you would never expect. From that meek freshman at orientation overwhelmed by an institution with nearly 35,000 students, you learn to make this place your own—to find your niche and leave your mark. Four years later, you leave here stronger—armed with experience, education and a realization of how much this place has been your home. I made it my mission to explore my interests in the Athens community, making my undergraduate experience a personal one.
I began on campus. I became involved in the Hospital Relations Committee with UGA Miracle, played my violin on Sundays at the UGA Catholic Center and was elected Minority Premedical Chair for Alpha Epsilon Delta. I also helped bring Seeds of Knowledge, a nonprofit I’ve worked with since high school, to UGA. In Seeds of Knowledge, we make handmade children’s books to support childhood literacy in rural Benin in West Africa, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Wanting to further branch out into Athens, I joined two meaningful organizations in my sophomore year: Mercy Health Center and St. Mary’s Hospice. As a Spanish medical interpreter at Mercy, I have come to understand gaps in the health care system affecting many Hispanics due to a language barrier and have realized my potential as a cultural, linguistic and medical liaison for patients. Moreover, working at St. Mary’s Hospice House has further involved me with the greater Athens community. I decided to volunteer with hospice after my grandfather passed away from a seven-year battle with cancer and from my own personal experience with chronic illness. Working at hospice has taught me a great deal about end of life care and patient advocacy as it is a humbling honor to be a part of the most intimate moments in another’s life. At hospice, I have the opportunity to share my love of music with patients and am also able to use my Spanish interpreting skills for patients. Hospice has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in my undergraduate career.
Following encouragement from my mentors at UGA, I took advantage of my summers. During my time abroad on a medical mission trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua the summer after my second year, I experienced many firsts: ziplining upside down through thick coffee bean plantations 100 feet above the canopy floor, hiking up a seasonally active volcano and witnessing international health disparities that greatly impacted my perspectives on public health. When I came back to the states that same summer, I also participated in the Student Educational Enrichment Program at the Medical College of Georgia. Through the health outcomes research I conducted that summer, I became profoundly affected by the local disparities I discovered—especially those directly impacting youth. Therefore, I helped spearhead a diabetes and obesity youth intervention program at the Medical College of Georgia. These experiences together helped ignite my passion for improving public health through community based intervention research. Since, my experience in the field has grown—especially after conducting clinical health services research this summer with Dr. Valerie Press at the University of Chicago Medical Center, which examined the prevalence and characteristics of poor vision among inpatients with diabetes.
After four exciting years, UGA has equipped me with the mentors, resources and opportunities to pursue these enriching experiences that have shaped my future. I am grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to walk away from this institution as a better version of myself—to have challenged myself academically and to have grown in ways I never could have imagined.
I am employed at the Rankin Smith Academic Center where I enjoy tutoring UGA student-athletes in general chemistry, organic chemistry and psychology. This past semester, I also served as a preceptor for Laura Weaver’s freshman English class.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first in my family to attend the University of Georgia.
I chose to attend UGA because...
I made an early dedication to pursue medicine stemming from a plethora of clinical exposure I had throughout my upbringing. Therefore, I strategically chose this well-rounded institution that would prepare me for medical school and would have the resources I needed to flourish. I chose UGA because it has a rigorous foundation in the sciences and had an array of opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research. I also appreciate that at UGA I can cultivate my interests outside of science like music, languages and psychology.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
I often practice Pilates in the classes offered at the Ramsey Center after and between classes. My friends and I also enjoy finding new lunch and study spots outside around campus like on the docks of Lake Herrick, in the courtyards of the law and art schools, and by the fountain on North Campus.
When I have free time, I like...
I like to keep active by running on the trails of the Sandy Creek Nature Center on the outskirts of downtown Athens and on-campus on the trails behind the intramural fields. I am also a foodie who loves to cook, so I enjoy finding new favorites at Trader Joe’s, trying new recipes and exploring the profusion of restaurants in downtown Athens. Also, I like singing, playing violin and guitar, and often dabble in composing my own music. However, I most treasure the time I have to hang out with friends.
The craziest thing I've done is...
I played at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the symphony orchestra my senior year at McIntosh High School. The acoustics on that world-class stage were absolutely incredible, as we performed Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni and an original poignant composition by our conductor, James Hagberg.
My favorite place to study is...
Basically anyplace with coffee. I frequent the Georgia Museum of Art when the Ike and Jane’s stand is open and the main library where Jittery Joe’s finest is served up on North Campus. You might also find me curled up in an oversized armchair of Two Story Coffeehouse on the east side or at Hendershot’s Coffee off Prince Avenue.
My favorite professor is...
It is difficult to name just one amazing professor at UGA, but two have especially made my undergraduate experience memorable. Karl Espelie has been my professor and adviser since sophomore year. He has profoundly impacted his students with his time, wisdom and words of encouragement. I have never seen another UGA faculty member as dedicated to his students. Also Janet Frick, my UGA research mentor in the Infant Psychology Lab, has expanded my knowledge of the research process in working with human subjects and first inspired my interest in pursuing research as a future health care professional.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
It would be with Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson. Besides sharing the same hometown of Detroit, Mich., I admire his ethics, self-discipline, experience in the medical field and his bold dedication to inspiring others. He has been one of my childhood role models since the third grade when my mom gave me my first copy of “Gifted Hands.” I feel that I could learn a lot about life and medicine just by sitting with him for an afternoon.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
I would create a sustainable and successful mobile clinic in rural parts of the Dominican Republic with a team of U.S. doctors that would continue to support the same community over time. My grandfather, a physician for 50 years from the Dominican Republic, would annually go back to his hometown to bring back medication and aid. I would like to continue to expand this tradition, serving the physical, mental and spiritual health of the community.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
I have an innate love of languages and like to immerse myself in different cultures when I have the opportunity. I would love to backpack throughout India, South America and Europe for one year.
After graduation, I plan to...
I plan to attend medical school in the fall to pursue an MD/MPH. As a primary care physician, I would like to continue conducting health services clinical research while working specifically with the Latino community.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
I will always remember the spirit present at every football game in Sanford Stadium. I am from a traditional Hispanic family where the only football we watched was fútbol. So, naturally it took many Saturdays in Athens to learn the rules of this foreign sport. However, it hit me as I took my first step into Sanford in my freshman year that I now belonged to something bigger. As I looked out onto the massive sea of red and black and heard the enveloping buzz of cheering, I had never before witnessed so much personal pride and spirit for my institution in one place.