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Stephanie Olds ′09

After participating in the Young Scholars Program the summer before my junior year of high school, I knew that Rhodes was the college for me. I was very impressed with the biology faculty, and I liked Rhodes’ location in midtown Memphis near hospitals and universities that offer internships and volunteer opportunities.

Through my internship in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTCHS), I came to learn many of the procedures that both community and infectious disease epidemiologists use in their evaluations and assessments of different programs. I was able to use this knowledge to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-based abstinence program and present the results of my evaluation at the annual Tennessee Public Health Association Conference that was held in Franklin, Tennessee, in November 2006. I look forward to interning at UTCHS again this summer and conducting independent laboratory research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

I am planning a career as both a biomedical researcher and a physician, focusing primarily on public health. As a researcher, I would like to study infectious diseases at the molecular level to understand why the great majority of them leave the immune system in shambles. As a physician, I would like to help with infectious disease outbreaks in other countries around the world. I have career aspirations of working as an infectious disease specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), or the World Health Organization (WHO).

As a laboratory teaching assistant in Rhodes’ biology department, I help first-year biology students with their lab experiments while I gain a deeper understanding of the experiments and lab procedures that they entail. I also work closely with Young Women Striving for Excellence, a Christian ministry for youth aged 6-24, whose primary focus is on abstinence and education.

I am a volunteer with the Memphis and Shelby Country Health Department Emergency Preparedness Program in the Public Health Reserve Corps/Medical Reserve Corps. In the event of an emergency, such as an infectious disease outbreak, I would be called to action! Being a member of the corps and the Tennessee Public Health Association allows me to keep up with what’s going on in the world of public health as it relates to infectious diseases. It also allows me to meet other people who share a similar interest in infectious diseases and to form relationships that might be very useful in my future career.

Most of all, being a mentor for the Memphis City Schools’ Connect Mentoring Program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I believe that all students have the potential to excel inside and outside the classroom. All they need is a listening, nonjudgmental ear and encouragement. Mentoring has given me the opportunity to share these beliefs with a middle-school student and help her to live up to her full capabilities.

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