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Biology Student Ambassadors

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Shade Smith

Shade Smith, Student Ambassador for the Department of Biology

Shade Smith

Shade is a member of the Honors College—and a future doctor. A senior, he is working as a mentor for freshmen bio students, part of a new program to help freshmen who sign up for this initiative learn how to study material in a college setting.  He makes them feel comfortable asking questions and learning how to learn in a new and more challenging environment.


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 biology 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.

Isabelle Ong

Headshot of Isabelle Ong.

Isabelle Ong

As a student conducting biology research, Isabelle is an Honors College student. As a member of Ole Miss Esports, Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honors Society, and the Honors College Minority Engagement Club, Isabelle actively engages with students all around campus.


Why did you decide to major in Biology?
In high school, I loved getting to understand the systems within our bodies, but also the vast amount of relationships within our environment. I found myself fascinated with the mechanisms that drove and sustained balance between us and our surroundings. After completing my general education requirements, I was able to confidently say that biology piqued my passions and fueled my curiosity to learn more.

How have professors at UM mentored you?
I began my college career as a Forensic Chemistry major, but after I took genetics, I realized that although I enjoyed chemistry, I loved biology. My genetics professor encouraged me to follow my passions and that led me to switch majors. The College of Liberal Arts, and Ole Miss as a whole, has a vast amount of majors and minors to select from which allowed me to discover what fits me best. Since changing majors, I have been able to integrate into the biology department by getting involved in a research lab, becoming a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society, and much more! All of the professors and advisors within the Biology Department genuinely care about my success and have always been open to conversations to help me figure out my path.

What’s an experience that made you feel empowered as a student?
Every week, the biology department hosts biology seminars where they invite professionals to come and discuss the research they’re working on. It’s been a very eye-opening experience to the vast amount of opportunities and disciplines within biology. Furthermore, I found that although I didn’t understand every detail that was presented, I was still able to follow along and understand the work that was being done because of how much I’ve already learned at Ole Miss. Even though I wasn’t in class, I was still able to learn from the presentations and ask questions.

What is an especially memorable trip, research, internship, or other school-related activity you’ve done?
During the 2020 Wintersession, I had the opportunity to take Dr. Noonan’s BISC 380 course titled, “Biology of the Caribbean.” I went to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. Not only was it exciting to be able to travel to so many different places, but we were also able to apply the knowledge we were learning towards what we were seeing. It was a hands-on and immersive experience that allowed me to be apart of a large group of other students who shared a similar passion as me.

What are your career aspirations?
I want to be a biology professor or researcher at a University. Once I graduate from Ole Miss, I hope to continue my education and attend graduate school.

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
I love the First Lady Roll from Toyo Japanese Sushi Bar & Hibachi. I get it every time!