Kambrie Riddle (Class of 2021)

photo of Kambrie Riddle

  • sophomore double major in Comparative Religion and Zoology, with a Premedical Studies co-major
  • from Oakwood, OH
  • learned Spanish medical terminology and shadowed physicians in a mobile medical brigade (Nicaragua, January 2018)
  • Undergraduate Assistant in Comparative Religion's Death and Dying class
  • President, Miami Misfitz
  • Vice President of Recruitment, Panhellenic Association
  • Research Assistant in Boone Amphibian Conservation Lab
  • medical scribe with ABC Scribes
"You cannot learn how the world works just by sitting in your classes — there are some things that you need to venture into, beyond what you find familiar and comfortable. Do not limit yourself. Take advantage of every opportunity that you find. All sorts of great opportunities will multiply for those who choose to seize them!"

Why Miami?

"I wanted to be somewhere where I would be able to reach my fullest potential. I felt that Miami was the best place for people to become their unique version of themselves. There aren't two people who are the same, and on top of that I liked Miami's small class sizes and the individualized faculty attention for students.

"With my original plan to go to med school, I had declared a major in biochemistry. Then, when I realized I would have to take other classes for the Miami Plan, I saw there were so many things I'd been absolutely oblivious about. This is how I discovered comparative religion during my second semester at Miami — my first class in that department was focused on food, religion, and culture and taught by professor Liz Wilson. During office hours she asked me about my career plans and ended up asking me to be her UA (undergraduate assistant) for her Death and Dying class, which she thought would be beneficial for me since I'm going into medicine. I feel this is something I would never have experienced elsewhere.

"I ended up switching my major from just biochemistry to both zoology and comparative religion when I realized that I wanted something different that would give me new, well-rounded experiences. For example, I took a biology class that led me into doing frog research with a graduate student in associate professor of biology Michelle Boone's Amphibian Conservation Lab! Though I never anticipated being involved in such a unique opportunity, I cannot imagine my college experience without it. I learned the importance of research, which helps me not only in medical school but provides me with many skills that I will be utilizing in the future."

Best Miami Experiences

Kambrie Riddle (left) poses with a friend.

"Miami offers many different opportunities that never fail to push me out of my comfort zone and allow me to challenge myself. New and unfamiliar experiences give me an adrenaline rush, which has been fueling my interest in becoming a surgeon. With this, I truly have been able to enjoy the enriching feeling of being alive.

"This is why I love my major in comparative religion. Liz Wilson has been one of my most influential professors so far at Miami because she gives insight into various kinds of intercultural experiences. Through her I learned that while there are biological, economical, psychological, and sociological definitions of life, the study of religion brings all of those fields together to foster a deeper level of human understanding. She has written one of my letters of recommendation for an Abbott Scholarship, and through our talks I gained a professor's perspective about how she plans out her classes.

"Associate teaching professor of biology David Russell has also been one of my best professors. He teaches his students that learning is more than just studying science — it's also how to study it. He often uses a basketball metaphor: you don't just practice for a game the day before — you have to keep practicing every day. This advice has helped me create good study skills and habits.

"I think the Miami experience that first evoked my interest in everything was when I studied abroad in Nicaragua during J-Term for a medical brigade. I got to shadow physicians, interact with patients, and create a history of present illness for them. It was cool to see how differently they handle different medical problems, and I feel there are many things Americans can learn from it. I realized that sometimes it's better to take more than just one path.

"At Miami I've also immersed myself in an a cappella group, a research lab, and Greek life on campus. College is more than just a stepping stone towards your career goal — it's about getting involved in classes, knowing your professors, joining organizations, and always taking advantage of the present moment."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

Kambrie Riddle working as a medical scribe

"When I was 15, I began working with an ER physician who ran his own transcribing business, ABC Scribes. He started it to ease the workload of physicians and make their medical notes more efficient. Initially I was interested in shadowing him because he was an entrepreneur, but when I was able to shadow him around the ER I became fascinated with working in the medical field myself. Then, at 17, I took a training course to become a scribe — he still remains one of the most influential mentors that I've ever had.

"This experience helped me realize early on that since I want to go to med school, I should take full advantage of everything I'd like to study — there's no better time. Taking classes in the liberal arts creates a very well-rounded student and teaches you things you wouldn't have experienced if you were on a one-track path.

On top of that, the liberal arts has given me important intercultural experiences, which are important for physicians dealing with different patients. Everything is becoming increasingly diverse nowadays. Although many physicians are chiefly focused on the sciences, I think it is important to be able to expand that knowledge."

Studying Abroad in Nicaragua

"The summer before I came to Miami, I was looking at various study abroad experiences because I knew they were extremely common here. Then I came upon the Spanish medical terminology course (SPN 203) in Nicaragua, led by senior lecturers Nohelia Rojas-Miesse and Julie Szucs, and I could not stop thinking about it! I knew if I didn't take advantage of it then, I would have regretted my decision.

Kambrie Riddle and a colleague offer some good hygiene advice to Nicaraguan youngsters.

"As it turned out, I was the only freshman on the trip, which took place for two weeks during J-Term. I had never even been outside the United States. I already had years of Spanish experience, but as soon as we arrived in Nicaragua I struggled to understand the accents. However, after engaging in conversation with my host family, I quickly adjusted and began to learn new information at an exponential rate.

"During this trip I had numerous cultural experiences that were eye-opening for me. For example, we would often see eggs sitting out on the streets, unrefrigerated. I finally asked my host mother about this, and she explained that the eggs were safe to consume because their outer layer was not removed, unlike processed eggs in the U.S. I also witnessed many people in Nicaragua go to the local market for fresh meat, which doesn’t require preservatives. Since 'grocery shopping' is a daily occurence, refrigerating food is avoided to reduce electricity usage. To me, this felt like a completely different approach, one that in some ways can lead to a better quality of life.

"While working in the medical brigade, I could see how deeply Nicaraguans value their connections. It was fascinating to see how physicians made real efforts to know their patients, understand their living situations, and examine all the things that can contribute to their medical problems.

"We all stayed with host families, and my host mother was super patient and an amazing cook. We also took Spanish class every day, where we learned how to take blood pressure, how to talk to patients using different medical terminologies, and how to stay informed on various conditions during our bus excursions into rural areas of the country.

"Using only Spanish, we would instruct children how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We would sit down with the physicians, take notes for prescriptions, and observe the various kinds of ailments that patients had — some that aren't common in the U.S. And for a couple of the brigades, we handed out food — simple things like rice, sugar, and coffee. People were always extremely grateful, and although some lived in open houses and shelters made only of propped up metal sheets, they were extremely generous to us as well. They always wanted to share with us the food they were making, such as freshly roasted peanuts. Everyone we encountered, even those who were ill, were just so incredibly happy and appreciative, and I thought that was amazing.

"The main lesson I learned from this trip was that it is essential to understand different perspectives — there is not necessarily only one best way to do anything. 'Different' doesn't mean inferior. I would love to take advantage of all the different things represented in various cultures to enhance the overall quality of healthcare today. This is something I wouldn't have been able to find just sitting in a classroom!"

Advice to Students

"You cannot learn how the world works just by sitting in your classes — there are some things that you need to venture into, beyond what you find familiar and comfortable. By being able to immerse myself in a different culture, I feel lucky to be able to realize that.

"Do not limit yourself. Take advantage of every opportunity that you find. All sorts of great opportunities will multiply for those who choose to seize them!"

[April 2019]