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Biology Student Ambassadors

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Lora Holman

Lora Holman, Biology Ambassador 2021-2022

Lora Holman

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose UM because of its renowned biology program and the wonderful community on campus. My sister went to UM (class of 2019) and UM feels like family.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I chose my biology major when I was leaving high school. At the time, I wanted to be a pre-med student, and while that has changed since then, I am still glad that I chose to come to UM as a biology major. I added my mathematics major in the second half of my sophomore year because I enjoyed the math department and my classes through it so much. I’ve loved math since I was in sixth grade, but I hadn’t considered majoring in it until I got a chance to meet UM’s math professors and explore all of the interesting classes that are offered in the department.

What are your career goals?
I plan to attend graduate school after graduation to further my education in biology, specifically marine biology. I hope one day to have a PhD in marine sciences and work with an aquarium or perhaps in marine conservation.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
One professor who has been particularly helpful to me throughout my years at UM would be Dr. Ryan Garrick. Dr. Garrick has been my biology major advisor since my sophomore year, and he is also the professor that I am currently doing my research for my honors thesis under. Dr. Garrick has been invaluable in my work for the SMBHC and he has spent plenty of time talking to me about my future and how I can decide what I want to do after my four years at UM.

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
I am the current Treasurer for the biological honors society, Beta Beta Beta, on campus. This society was one of the first ways that I made friends on campus as a freshman, and I am honored to be serving as an officer for them now. Through BBB, I met other people in my major, which was vital to me in the past few years, as I didn’t know anyone coming to Oxford as a freshman.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I love to read and write in my free time. I love mystery novels especially and would love to talk about Agatha Christie with anyone who is interested.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?
First Watch is my favorite place to eat in Oxford. They have amazing breakfast and brunch!

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
I have wanted to visit France since I was a middle schooler obsessed with the Eiffel Tower, and I still would love to, as evidenced by the extra French classes I took my sophomore year. I would also love to go to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve never been scuba diving before, but I would love to do so there. I hope to study there one day, or at least visit for fun.

Reena Thara

Reena Thara, Biology Ambassador 2021-2022

Reena Thara

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose to attend UM partly because of the roots I already established as a kid attending Ole Miss football games, but the excellent reputation the research department has was a huge interest to me. I always wanted to be a part of some sort of research and gain experience in that sort of field and University of Mississippi has provided me with that opportunity.

Why did you decide to study Biochemistry at UM?
Biochemistry is such a unique multidisciplinary because it allows you to study two fields of science in great depth. For someone like me, who didn’t know whether I wanted to study just biology or chemistry because I love both subjects, this option was most ideal for me. In the end, I’m glad I chose to study biochemistry at UM because I’ve enjoyed all of my classes thus far.

What are your career plans?
I want to spend my life serving an underserved area in Mississippi as a primary care physician. Recently I’ve been accepted into the Mississippi Rural Scholarship Program, which is an excellent opportunity for students interested in giving back to their Mississippi community as a healthcare provider and becoming a part in combating the state’s current health crisis. I hope to be part of a larger mission in building rural communities as a whole through improved healthcare, education, and economic development.

Have you had an experience that made you feel empowered at UM?
I work as a student researcher in Dr. Pomin’s lab, which works with medications, specifically blood thinners. Blood thinners have a lot of side effects, so we hope to lessen these side effects with our research. It’s empowering working directly to improve drug discovery as a student researcher here at UM.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr. Ritchie has been very helpful to me from the beginning. He taught me general chemistry my freshman year and now I have a strong foundation in chemistry, making upper-level chemistry courses easier to grasp. Also, he is my academic advisor so he helps me map out my course plans each semester. Of course, he always gives great advice and lots of words of encouragement as well!

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
Jinsei’s sushi and their signature Asian wings, but also the kimchi fries with beef at Mi and Tea! I don’t think you could really go wrong with Asian food lol. Also, boba milk teas… those are heavenly!

What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to?
I’m currently binge-watching a show called Kim’s Convenience, which I find very cute and comforting to play in the background as I binge read my MCAT textbooks (okay maybe not “binge” read as I should). Lastly, I listen to Hayley Kiyoko when I’m not listening to Kahn Academy explain the process of cell respiration.

Savanna White

Savanna White, Biology Ambassador 2021-2022

Savanna White

Why did you choose to attend UM?
In addition to the scholarships offered, the University of Mississippi has one of the best biology programs in the state of Mississippi. As a bio pre-med major Ole Miss was one of my top choices for undergrad. Since my hometown of Hattiesburg is a college town, many students from there choose to go to the University of Southern Mississippi; I was one of the outliers. While I love my hometown and the people in it, I wanted to expand my horizons which made the decision to attend the University of Mississippi a top choice on my college list as it is 4 hours away from Hattiesburg.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I decided on a biology major around middle school. Learning about the different components of the human body intrigued me; this contributed to my decision to pursue medicine. Knowing what biological elements help humans to survive as a species is an interest that has held fast throughout my high school and into my college career.

What are your career goals?
Since a young age, I have wanted to pursue medicine but it was not until recent years before I decided on emergency medicine. Not only am I attracted to the fast-paced environment, but the variety of cases that may enter the emergency department. Ultimately, I aspire to become an emergency room physician.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Without a doubt, Professor Ashleen Williams has been one of the most helpful instructors I have had so far. As a first-gen college student she has been an invaluable resource for advice in both my studies and life.

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
In November 2020, I had the opportunity to help pack Thanksgiving meals for those in need at the Oxford Community Market. As someone who has experienced financial hardships for nearly my entire life, being able to help those who are in similar situations gave me a sense of fulfillment.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
Since I’m also an artist, when I’m not working on assignments, I usually can be found sketching, painting with oil paints, or writing poetry. I’m also a fan of mysteries and the paranormal so when I’m not doing art, I’m reading up on things of that nature.

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
Puerto Rico and Japan for separate reasons. Before COVID, I was booked to take a trip to Japan in the summer of 2020 but this had to be cancelled. This devastated me as this was somewhere I have always wanted to visit due to its beautiful culture and gorgeous scenery. As for Puerto Rico, the reasoning behind my desire to go there is similar but slightly different. My grandfather who has traveled countless places over the years always told me the one place he wished he could go back to would be Puerto Rico. This is a trip I hope to be able to take with him one day.