Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 1:08pm

International travel, study and service led senior double major (biology, psychology) Makenzie Kitchens toward finding her path:

UGA has provided me many opportunities to participate in life-changing experiences. I have had the privilege of being a part of the UGA cheerleading team for the last four years. We have traveled together as a team to many places to cheer on the Dawgs and represent our school. We cheer for several sporting events including football, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. I also act as an ambassador for the university at various alumni and charity events.

Through programs at UGA, I was selected to participate in a in a seven-week medical intern program in Cape Town, South Africa. I had the opportunity to assist local doctors with patient care in an underfunded, rural township. While in South Africa, I experienced health care from a different perspective and I came back more passionate than ever. I also went hiking, on road trips, shark cage diving, and so many other once in a lifetime activities.

I have always been deeply curious and have had a strong desire to solve problems, which led me to undergraduate research. I became involved in the Exercise Muscle Physiology Lab where I studied the effects of muscle length and oxygen saturation on muscle fatigue. My hope was to find the most effective forms of therapy for those who suffer spinal cord injuries. I designed the experiments, recruited participants, completed tests, analyzed data and drew conclusions. Through failure and success, I was able to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge throughout the process. I presented this research at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine conference. I shared my techniques and results in hopes of inspiring others. Research is something that I plan to continue during my dental career.

I have had the opportunity to serve on the executive board of two clubs that are dear to my heart: Dawgs for Diabetes and Love Your Melon. I have loved being able to give back through these clubs and impact the Athens community in a unique way. UGA has so much to offer and I am thankful for the friendships and lifelong memories I have gained from my time here.

Great students, wonderful memories and bright futures: People discovering themselves and following their dreams never fails to inspire. Plus: the Rose Bowl!