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Jackie Hancock ′10

Hometown: China Spring, TX
Major: Biology, with a minor in Religious Studies

Why did you decide to attend Rhodes?
I applied to schools like Yale and Amherst as well as Rhodes, partly because of the “wow” factor that comes when you say, “I go to Yale.” Eventually, it came down to either Yale or Rhodes. But as I closely examined both schools and really looked at the specific opportunities available for undergraduates, Rhodes was the clear choice for me.

Yale may have Nobel Laureates on their staff, but my chances of actually being taught by one of them as an undergrad would have been slim to none. There was a good chance that some of my classes would be taught by TAs. At Rhodes, I’m learning directly from PhD professors who are leaders in their fields and leaders of their own labs, but they choose to teach undergraduates because…well…they love to teach. At Yale, I feared I might have been given a massive textbook and a pat on the back. But at Rhodes, I’m receiving individualized education from a whole slew of national caliber peers and professors who are helping me unlock my potential to become the best researcher I can be.

How has Rhodes helped you further your academic interests?
To understand how Rhodes has impacted me, just look at Dr. Mary Miller. I stepped into her lab freshman year and I haven’t left since. For the past three years and two summers, I have worked in her lab, using budding yeast as a model system to study what regulates the cell division cycle. This is an important process to understand because errors in this regulation can cause cancer in human cells. My research experience has exposed me to the process of scientific inquiry and the practical aspects of running a research lab, which has been a decisive factor in planning my future career. I’ve presented my research with Dr. Miller at conferences around the country, including the American Society for Cell Biology conference in San Francisco last year. I know I would not have had the same opportunities to conduct or present my research at many other schools.

Based on my work in Dr. Miller’s lab, I was a grateful recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship in 2008. Professors in both the Biology and Chemistry departments helped me ready my application. Dr. Mauricio Cafiero in the Chemistry department first introduced me to the scholarship and Dr. Terry Hill in the Biology department was my essay reader. As a testament to the quality of Rhodes undergraduate research, two other sophomores from Rhodes received the Goldwater in 2008. That is a huge accomplishment. The award isn’t usually given to sophomores and very few schools can boast such an achievement.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Right now, I am interviewing at medical schools across the country. I plan to enter academic medicine and hope to eventually perform some combination of translational research, seeing patients, and teaching medical school students. My Rhodes professors are the reason I want to make both research and teaching part of my career. I hold them and their work in the highest esteem. I hope to follow in their footsteps by advancing the boundaries of scientific knowledge while educating the next generation of upcoming scientists.

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