Shade Smith, Kayla Woodson, and Vrunda Patel, Biology Student Ambassadors

Shade Smith

Shade Smith, Student Ambassador for the Department of Biology
Follow Shade on Instagram

Follow Shade on Instagram

Shade Smith

Shade is a mentor, a farm manager, a member of the Honors College—and a future doctor. He’s also a traveler who participated in a StudyUSA trip to Arizona.


Student Profile

How did you decide to study biology?
During my senior year in high school, I decided on biology because that’s what interested me the most. I also had a good chemistry background, so I thought that a chem minor was the right way to go.

What are your career goals?
My goal is to go to medical school and become a primary care doctor. I want to go home to the Mississippi Delta to provide medical care for the people who live there, since there aren’t enough doctors. The doctors that my family and I have been seeing since I was a child will be reaching retirement age at about the time that I’ll be completing medical school. People should have access to medical care.

Why study your major at UM?
I’ve found some of the best and brightest people that the South has to offer. You’ll also join a family and become a part of long tradition. UM will give you the best education that can be offered while also helping you make memories that will last all your life.

Kayla Woodson

Kayla Woodson, Student Ambassador for the Department of Biology
Follow Kayla on Instagram

Follow Kayla on Instagram

Kayla Woodson

A future physician (she wants to be a pediatrician), Kayla is pursuing a career in biology and has been selected to serve as part of a research team. She has traveled abroad with a groups of UM students who, led by a professor, studied and did research on a project that took her to Honduras.


Student Profile

Why did you pick your major?
I picked my major because of my love for medicine and how the human body works. Medicine is changing every day.  It’s an incredibly dynamic field and I want to be a part of that. The Department of Biology is amazing here. The faculty and staff will make sure you are prepared for life after UM, whether that’s a job or graduate school. We have so many resources here that a lot of schools can’t offer.

What’s with the monkey in your picture!?
I was in Honduras during a abroad winter session that was led by Dr. Noonan.  We studied ecology at several sites in Honduras.  It was intensive but also fun.  That cute monkey I’m holding lives at a wildlife relief facility that we visited.

What is a memorable moment you had as part of a class?
When I was taking Human Reproduction we were studying childbirth and the different medicines people take when they’re delivering a baby.  It amazes me how different drugs can make a huge difference in the childbirth experience.  Some can trigger contractions and labor; others help women stay comfortable and relaxed.

Has any specific professor make a difference in your life with teaching or mentoring?
Dr. Noonan made a big difference in my life because he made me fall in love with nature and understand its importance in human life.  He has been an incredible mentor to me.

Extracurricular activities?
I’m on the executive board of the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students.  I’m also a teaching assistant for a biology lab.  I’ve also been a part of the student staff at Rebel Radio.

What’s your go-to restaurant in Oxford?
Hands down Taco Shop.

What are you binge watching?
Greys Anatomy! Yes it’s cliche for a premed student to watch that, but I can’t help it !

Vrunda Patel

Vrunda Patel, Student Ambassador for the Department of Biology

Vrunda Patel

Vrunda is on her way to a career in optometry. She was chosen as a teaching assistant for a biology lab, leading the lab for other students and helping through a notoriously tough curriculum.

Student Profile

What is an “aha!” moment you had in a class or a talk with a professor?
I was in physiology class and my light bulb moment was when I realized how simple the mechanism behind a contraction was!

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
Always Taco Bell.

What is an especially memorable trip, research, internship, or other school-related activity you’ve done?
One of the most interesting things I’ve done on campus is beingateacherassistant in a bio lab meant for nonmajors. Interactions with students and the responsibility of having to actually lead a lab is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

What are you binge watching on Netflix or other platform?
Psych on Amazon Prime!

Why did you decide to study your major(s)?
I decided to study biology because who wouldn’t want to learn about life itself!

Career goals?
I plan on going to optometry school and becoming an optometrist!

Why study biology at the University of Mississippi?
Biology is tough, hands down, but you end up finding people that are there to help you along the way and actually want you to do great and move on to the next chapter of your life.

Have you had an experience at UM that made you feel empowered?
I would say people rather than an experience have caused me to step out of my shell. It’s definitely true that the people around you have the most influence on you.

Any particular support or encouragement you have received from a professor?
Nicole Lewis [lecturer and coordinator of Majors Laboratory Programs] is definitely one of my favorites. She always manages to tell me “You can do it!” and helps me in figuring out ways that work best for me to get things done.