Senior biology major Sam Huffman is passionate about serving others as well as Spanish language and culture, and he plans to combine those as a bilingual physician who can make an impact for all patients seeking to gain informed access to health care:
During my time at UGA, I have also been able to travel abroad through the UGA en España Program. The summer after my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Cádiz, Spain, for seven weeks. While living with a Spanish host family, I completed courses in Spanish culture and linguistics, in addition to assisting in a tutoring program at a primary school. Each day abroad I developed a deeper understanding that my goal to gain fluency was second to the insight that a mutual understanding of cultures is the key to communication. This program provided me abundant opportunity to immerse myself in another culture and grow as an individual. For the remaining portion of the summer, I volunteered in the interpretive services department of a hospital in Kansas City, where I was responsible for managing phone calls with Spanish speaking patients or dispatching translators throughout the campus. Currently, I volunteer at OASIS Católico Santa Rafaela, which is an after-school program in an Athens Latino community. Here, English and Spanish culture intertwines to enrich one another.
Spring semester of my junior year, I was fortunate to take part in biomedical undergraduate research under supervision of professor Randy Hammond. In the preliminary research project, I investigated the relationship between neural function and macular pigment optical density in the retina of young, healthy adults. I decided to join a study with Dr. Hammond to develop a better understanding of the research process. This hands-on experience fueled my desire to learn beyond a classroom setting. Throughout the semester, I attained a better insight about data collection strategies to gather accurate information. Additionally, I was compelled by the evolution of Dr. Hammond’s research on macular degeneration and its applicability on preventive care in medicine.
Great students working with great faculty members is truly an inspiring combination. His experience studying abroad presents an interesting slice-of-life that affected his worldview and professional aspirations in important ways that recommends international education to every undergraduate. Congratulations to Huffman and good luck as he continues his medical training.