Hannah Jennings (Class of 2017)

  • photo of Hannah Jenningssenior honors Biology major with a Premedical Studies co-major
  • minor in Sociology
  • from Westfield, IN
  • University Academic Premedical Scholar (divisional representative)
  • Miami Med and the Mallory Wilson Center Student Advisory Board
  • studied ecological conservation in the Florida Everglades and the Bahamas

Discovering these new experiences has given me greater enthusiasm for a medical career. I see how sometimes doing even the smallest things for people makes them incredibly thankful, and that makes everything worthwhile!

Why Miami?

"My mom's a nurse, which was a big influence in my life. I've always wanted to go to medical school, and one of the doctors my mom works with said that Miami has one of the best pre-med programs in the Midwest. We visited, I fell in love, and everything worked out perfectly. Oxford is only two hours from my hometown in Indiana, which is nice because it's given me a chance to meet new people and have new experiences. I'm just far enough away so that I'm not tempted to go home every weekend!

enlarged photo of Hannah Jennings with sorority sisters"As an Honors student, I lived in Emerson Hall my first year. It was great getting to know everybody and taking college classes for the first time. My high school prepared me well with AP classes, but Miami's courses were more in-depth and diverse. One I enjoyed was an Honors biology cluster course called Self and Place, which was a mix of sociology, anthropology, environmental science, psychology, and more. There were only about 20 students, so we all got to know each other well, and I'm still friends with many of them.

"I'd say that my favorite thing about Miami would be the people—I've met such great professors and advisors and students. Besides my classes, I also got involved with two great organizations: my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and Miami Med, which prepares me for medical school. Each has turned out to be a great decision!"

Best Miami Experiences

"Last summer I studied abroad in the Bahamas to study tropical marine ecology. Not only was the trip a great way to get biology credit, but it was an amazing chance since I had never been out of the country before. When I was little, I always loved the ocean and learning about the fish, and then I heard that Miami offered an Honors waiver to help students study abroad. I wrote a few short essays and, after getting accepted, was able to have 80% of the trip's tuition fees covered!

"In Miami Med we have meetings every other week, in which we do a lot of interview practice and medical school visits. Doctors often come in and talk to us on topics related to medical education. I'm also an University Academic Premedical Scholar, which keeps me busy with lots of events and meetings related to med school preparation. I've gone to a lot of great dinners with visiting doctors and other scholars where I was able to talk to them in a casual setting and get great advice.

"Regarding the academic side of things, Dr. David Pennock in the Mallory Wilson Center for Healthcare Education has been a huge help as a premedical advisor. He wrote me a med school letter of recommendation, and I'm able to ask him about anything I have questions about. This helped me prepare for the MCAT exam in January 2016, in which I scored in the 90th percentile!"

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"I began as a biochem major, but I felt that biology would give me the best of both worlds. Biology, chemistry, sociology, and psychology are all needed for my premedical studies co-major. Adding in my sociology minor, I've racked up a lot of liberal arts credits for my B.A., and that's given me a wide range of academic experiences. Ever since I was a freshman, I'd just been taking hard science, but starting last year I've branched out into other courses like sociology, psychology, and ethics, all of which help me think in broader terms and different ways.

"I'm really interested in sports medicine, so I'll be attending medical school. If I wish to go into surgery, I can try for an orthopedic residency and then a sports med fellowship after that, or I can become a basic clinical sports med doctor by doing a family or internal medicine residency followed by a sports med fellowship. Whichever path I choose, I'm really happy with my classes at Miami, particularly biochemistry and physiology, which have been my favorites so far.

"While biochem and physiology are above and beyond my favorite subjects, I also really enjoyed a sociology course called Social Stratification, which I took for my minor, and a philosophy course called Medical Ethics. Both of these really just opened my eyes to a different perspective to look at things."

Racing Sea Stars and Studying Marine Conservation in the Bahamas

enlarged photo of Hannah Jennings in the Bahamas"My study trip to the Bahamas, led by Hays Cummins and Donna McCollum, was focused on environmental conservation, which involved studying coral reefs to understand how to prevent their destruction. We started in the Florida Keys for 4 days, during which we visited mangroves in the Everglades to learn about the conditions of that environment.

"From Florida we moved on to the Bahamas for 9 days, where we looked at not only the different kinds of coral reefs but also different fish and algae species. We snorkeled every single day! We also broke into groups to do various simple research projects, taking advantage of a small library at the research center. We had no internet service there, so we had to figure out how to conduct our research without the benefits of modern technology.

"My group examined the movement of sea stars, which sit upon the coral reefs or within the surrounding seagrasses on the ocean floor. We set up sea star 'races', in which we would measure them and line them up in a spot where the seagrasses and sand made a pretty distinct line. We did 3 trials of 8 specimens at a time. For a half hour we would check and measure their progress, determining their direction and distance covered. Some moved through the seagrasses and some would go towards the shore, eating as they went. It was quite interesting when we realized that sea stars can move much more quickly than we'd thought!

"My trip to the Bahamas made me consider deferring acceptance to med school so I can take a gap year and learn more about environmental conservation and sustainability. Last year I took a medical seminar in which doctors came in to give us advice. Many of them are super successful and love what they do, but they said that if they could have gone back and done one thing differently, they would've taken a gap year in order to follow another passion before making the full commitment of their careers.

"I've been talking with the professors for the Bahamas trip about the possibility of doing an internship on the coast, maybe the Everglades, to work in conservation or some type of ecological research. All of this came out of my study abroad trip, which I didn't think I'd be able to afford at first. Yet I figured out a way, and I'm so happy I did. It was a life-changing, great experience, so I recommend doing all you can to find a way!"

Advice to Students

"It's always good to try anything and everything. Many premedical studies co-majors are in biology, biochemistry, and chemistry, with almost everybody taking the same courses, and it can be easy to stress out about your major at the beginning. Once you get those core classes in, though, make sure to explore others to help you figure out what you want. For example, the biology and microbiology departments also have majors for zoology and botany. Just take in everything and see what you like and don't like.

"Other than that, it's important to branch out and try different things outside your major. I love all the social experiences my involvement in my sorority and other organizations provide, but since last summer I've also been working at a local senior center as an activities assistant. I've gotten to know the residents' personalities. Working there has confirmed how much I love the patient interaction side of things. Getting to know them and their stories, while helping them out in whatever way possible, makes me incredibly happy.

"Discovering these new experiences has given me greater enthusiasm for a medical career. I see how sometimes doing even the smallest things for people makes them incredibly thankful, and that makes everything worthwhile!"

[February 2017]