Pictured from left: Sydney Davis, Abi Broom, Brooks Davis and Emily Mehaffey.
The United Nations General Assembly established International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an annual observance taking place February 11 to promote opportunities available to women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. In this article, four seniors in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences share their thoughts and aspirations.
Abi Broom, a Biochemistry major from Pickens, South Carolina, applied early decision for the Medical University of South Carolina and was accepted. Dealing with nearsightedness since childhood and seeing members of her family impacted by vision problems, Broom appreciates ophthalmologists, optometrists and other eye care professionals she has known over the years. They have inspired her to become an Ophthalmologist.
Abi will graduate from Anderson University with a broad range of experiences. As a Cancer Fellow with the Anderson University Center for Cancer Research, Broom has collaborated on research of natural chemotherapy alternatives that has appeared in national publications. She has also shadowed several ophthalmologist practices in Greenville and worked at an optometry office. Broom says that the close-knit community she has experienced while at Anderson University has been simply amazing.
“I have several mentors, supervisors and colleagues that have just been instrumental in me chasing my dreams to become a physician,” Abi said.
Sydney Davis, a Biochemistry major with plans to enter VCOM (Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine) has benefited from her experience working as a nursing assistant at Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital in her hometown. She also has gained a wealth of experience as a technical assistant in the labs of the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences. Throughout school, Sydney has been interested in science, but she is particularly drawn to a profession where she can help others in a healthcare setting.
“I’ve always seen myself doing either internal medicine or family medicine,” Sydney said. “If I do internal medicine, I might want to specialize further with either endocrinology or allergy and immunology and do a fellowship after that, but I can also see myself doing family medicine and practicing right after residency.”
Brooks Davis, who is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Biomedical Sciences, also plans to enter VCOM after she graduates from Anderson University. Ever since Brooks was five, she had the sense she wanted to become a doctor and as a teenager her determination to pursue medicine grew.
“I have always been interested in obstetrics and gynecology, but I’m open to pretty much all kinds of primary care, so I would be interested in pediatrics or family medicine as well,” Brooks said. Brooks appreciates how her professors challenge her and her classmates to be creative in their thinking while encouraging confidence.
“When we’re stepping into our graduate programs, it’s not just that we went through the classes, but we’ve had the support along the way,” she said. “So I think the professors here have uniquely prepared us to be able to handle that kind of curriculum.”
Emily Mehaffey, Biology major and minor in Chemistry and a minor in Biomedical Sciences from Greenville who was accepted to dental school at MUSC, is grateful for all of the opportunities Anderson University has given her.
“I’ve been able to be a part of the executive committee for ASA (Anderson Science Association) my junior and then senior year. I’ve been a member of the club since my freshman year,” Emily said. “Also at Anderson this past semester I was able to do the cadaver lab practicum… I think that’s one of the things that really helped in my applications for dental school, because it really stood out. The past two summers I was able to intern at Holly Tree Pediatric Dentistry of Greenville.”
Abi, Brooks and Sydney joined students from across South Carolina’s Upstate for the AnMed Pre Med Boot Camp, which takes place on the Anderson University campus each May and is sponsored by the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC). They feel that the boot camp has provided them with valuable hours of shadowing time, lots of practical experience working closely with physicians and assistants, including hands-on training, and also medical school interview preparation. Also, students can take advantage of the Anderson University Center for Medical Simulations gaining experience in a cadaver lab, something that very few undergraduate programs in the nation can offer.
“Many of my colleagues are women in science and they have done an excellent job in encouraging me that I can step out into that field as well, because medicine is notorious for being very difficult to even get into and once you’re in it, it can be very rigorous,” Abi said. “Anderson has prepared me very well in the scientific aspects but also the emotional drive aspect of ‘you can do this and you’re capable of it.’ I’m very thankful for my mentors and colleagues that have encouraged me in that.”
Brooks adds, “I think especially being female, there are a lot of misconceptions about being able to do it all. I’ve heard from girls who like science but don’t necessarily want to go into that pathway, because they don’t know if they can have both a family life and a career. It’s 100 percent possible. It’s about learning how to balance your time. Don’t stop yourself from doing something that you are passionate about and love just because you’re afraid of what the future might hold.”
“I grew up with a female dentist and just had a really awesome experience with her. I know historically there have been more males going into the medical field,” Emily said. “I think it’s just an awesome opportunity.”
Details about Biology and Chemistry programs in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences can be found online.