The University of Georgia
Church, Alia

UGA's Amazing Students

Alia Church

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November 23, 2014

Alia Church, a senior majoring in biology and psychology, has cheered the Bulldogs for four years and excelled in the classroom, and she has her sights set on becoming a medical doctor.

Expected graduation:

Spring 2015

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology and psychology

University highlights, achievements and awards:

Over the years, I have enjoyed staying involved and active. I have had the opportunity to be a UGA cheerleader for the past four years—cheering football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics events and also acting as an ambassador for the university at various appearances. I have also pursued my interests in medicine by working at a doctor’s office, shadowing and volunteering. My job as an office assistant at The Ashford Center involves a variety of front and back office tasks. I have learned so much by helping in the office, assisting with patients and observing in-office procedures.

This past winter, I went to Esmeraldas, Ecuador, with MEDLIFE, an organization dedicated to medicine, education and development for low-income families everywhere. Here, we helped to build two staircases to prevent injuries and facilitate everyday activities. Additionally, we set up mobile clinics to help provide needed health care to communities. Shadowing and assisting the physicians was one of the most humbling, inspiring activities I have ever done. The people in these communities survive with so little and yet at the end of the day were willing to cook us meals as a symbol of their gratitude. This was an experience that I will never forget!

Another highlight of my undergraduate years here at UGA is the research that I am involved in under Kevin McCully in the kinesiology department. We use near-infrared spectroscopy, a non-invasive technique, to assess differences in blood oxygenation to determine muscle blood flow and metabolism. I never imagined that I would enjoy research, but I have loved studying in Dr. McCully’s lab. It has opened my eyes to the importance of research and its relevance to medicine. I hope to continue research even after I graduate from UGA.

Hometown:

Peachtree City, Ga.

High School:

McIntosh High School

Current Employment:

Office assistant at The Ashford Center

Family Ties to UGA:

My oldest brother Nick attended UGA for his B.A. in history, and my brother Michael currently attends UGA as a graduate student studying computer science. We have all become huge Bulldog fans!

I chose to attend UGA because...

I love the fact that the University of Georgia is a well-rounded school. UGA has so much to offer considering its academics, extra-curricular activities and athletics. UGA has a great cheerleading program, and how could I pass up the Zell B. Miller Scholarship?

My favorite things to do on campus are...

There is no better experience on campus than Saturdays in Athens. I love cheering between the hedges on game day in front of crazy UGA fans and will never forget the first time I ran onto the field in Sanford Stadium. It’s easy to see the crowd’s dedication and excitement, and I think that I am very lucky to attend a school that has students and supporters who have such passion. When I’m not practicing or cheering on Saturdays, I like to fully dedicate myself to academics.

When I have free time, I like...

I don’t have much free time, but when I do have some down time, I love to relax and enjoy a good book.

The craziest thing I've done is...

This summer I went skydiving on my 21st birthday. When I was younger, I was terrified of airplanes and would have never imagined myself jumping out of one. After the initial disorientation and adrenaline rush that follows the jump, the view is breathtaking. It is definitely something I would recommend to any thrill-seeker.

My favorite place to study is...

I probably get the most work done when I study at a table or in a room in the Miller Learning Center. My favorite place to study would be at the kitchen table or desk in my apartment, though. I am a night owl, so I like to get comfortable and study into the night at home.

My favorite professor is...

… Karl Espelie. He goes above and beyond for all of his students in every way possible. I am so grateful for his guidance and support, and his constant encouragement has been invaluable to me throughout my years here at UGA. I know that if I have a question or concern, he is just a phone call or email away. I have been inspired by his dedication and enthusiasm. Plus, he has a great sense of humor.

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

I would love to spend an afternoon with the authors of my favorite books, but there are too many to name. If I had to choose just one person, it would be Dr. Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and physician who dedicates his life to providing high-quality health care in underserved areas of the world. Tracy Kidder describes some of Dr. Farmer’s work in his book “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.”

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

I would probably be doing the same thing that I am doing now. However, as a doctor I would aim to improve living conditions around the world and to provide equal access to health care for all people.

After graduation, I plan to...

I hope to attend medical school.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

I will never forget the time I participated in the Medical Wilderness Adventure Race in Augusta. The race is held in Fort Gordon, and the course is between 10 and 15 miles of hiking, biking, running and kayaking. Along the way, my team had to act out different medical scenarios and respond to these simulations using our preplanned medical kit. We also had checkpoints where we answered questions on how to respond to medical situations. Most of the participants were med students, but I was part of a team consisting of four UGA undergraduates. We traveled through woods and swamps to reach the finish line and could barely move by the time it was all over. While this race was difficult, we learned so much and created priceless memories.