Amazing Student Interview: Colleen Boyle

By Ahmed Mahmood

A day in the life of Colleen Boyle is a hectic one. She balances classes, studying for the MCAT, volunteering, and running a student organization all while keeping her social commitments to her friends. To top it off, Colleen is a warm, kind-hearted person who doesn’t do the things she is doing for gold or glory. PreMed Magazine sat down with Colleen and took a glance at who the real Colleen Boyle is and what her schedule is like.

Q: What’s your name, your major, and expected graduation date?
A: My name is Colleen Boyle and I am doubling in Genetics and Biology. I’ll be graduating next spring 2015.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a UGA student?
A: I love the UGA community. I love all the students, and there’s this really great sense of comradery. Even in the upper level sciences, where all the pre-med kids are trying to one up each other for the curve, I feel like everyone helps each other out. I started a new organization and the support that we’ve received was just amazing. A bit more than I thought that we were going to get.

Q: Who would you say your favorite professor is?
A: I really loved Wendy Dustman. She teaches Microbio 3500. I just think she’s just one of the best teachers. She really cares. She makes it fun. I just think that if you do the work that she asks, then you can do well in her class. I just think she’s an awesome teacher.

Q: Would your favorite class be Microbio as well?
A: You know what? I think my favorite class would have to be Genetics. It was really hard and it wasn’t the class that I got the best grade in, but I loved it and I’m a sucker for Genetics. After that class I added it to my major.

Q: What particular area in Genetics did you like studying?
A: My favorite part was epigenetics and, I guess, alternative splicing. Basically, the fact that, even though each cell has such and such genetic code and the code is passed down each generation, the things that you do in your life affect the code that you’re going to pass down. This is epigenetics. If you become an alcoholic or obese in your life…you will affect the genetic code that you will pass down.

Q: So you’re saying that whatever our parents or grandparents do will affect us?
A: Yeah! Exactly! Same with alternative splicing. You have this one code but depending on how it’s cut, it can do so many different things. That’s what I love genetics. It should be really simple. It should be this is the code and this is what’s gonna happen, but that’s not how it is. There’s all these separate factors that affect it.

Q: Do you have any extracurriculars? Obviously,  you take classes at UGA, but what do you do outside of class?
A: So I started a new organization last semester called Donate Life UGA. I’m the President and founder of the organization, and this semester we’ve really been ramping up a lot of stuff.That’s taken up a lot of my time. I also volunteer at Mercy Clinic next to the Health Sciences Campus. I go there once every other week and I scribe for doctors and patients. It’s fun and I love being in the clinical setting.

Q: I want to go back to Donate Life UGA. Are people skeptical about donating organs?
A: Absolutely. There’s just so many myths associated with donating organs. I feel like the public in general is not educated on it. When you go to the DMV, it says, “Are you an organ donor, yes or no.” If you just look at that and don’t have a background in what that means, it’s pretty terrifying. A lot of people have the misconception that if you go to the hospital, doctors won’t save you if you’re an organ donor. That’s absolutely not true. A lot of people think that if you’re an organ donor that you’re also a live donor and you can’t choose which organs you wanna donate. Another misconception is that rich people make it on the [transplant] list first. People will say, “Oh I don’t wanna give my liver to a rich alcoholic so he can go kill it again.” That’s not how it goes. The list is set up by priority of the disease, not the influence of the person. Are we gonna get everyone on campus to be organ donors? Absolutely not, but the next time they go to the DMV, they’ll stop and think for a second. It’s not this big, scary thing. It’s not anything that will affect your life, but you can save up to eight peoples after you pass away. That’s what really what we are trying to do, to cut through the misconceptions so people know the real facts and make this big decision. I want them to have everything in their arsenal to make this decision.

Q: So other than Donate Life UGA and volunteering at Mercy, what else have you done? Did you do research?
A: Yeah! So I did research a little over a year. I did research from my sophomore year, into the summer, and the beginning of my junior year. I worked for a professor named Dr. Promislow in the Genetics department. I worked with Drosophila melanogaster.

Q: The fruit fly?
A: Yup, mating experiments and mortality experiments.

Q: That’s morbid.
A: Yeah, I spent all my summer killing flies. I worked with him and I was planning on to continue working with him, but he moved to Seattle. I continued two experiments of his throughout August. During the summer, I also joined another fruit fly lab under Dr. Dyer. I ended up becoming allergic to the mold that was growing in the vials so I had to leave the lab, but it gave me the opportunity to start Donate Life UGA.

Q: Is it true that flies are flying around everywhere in fruit fly labs?
A: Everywhere! Everywhere! We have a million traps set up, but sometimes I feel like they just sit on the edge of the trap and mock us.

Q: You volunteer at Mercy, you run Donate Life UGA, and you did research for a year. What do you do strictly for fun?
A: I play soccer. I am in a co-ed soccer indoor soccer team and sometimes we go outdoors if the weather permits.

Q: What’s your record?
A: We are terrible but we’re doing it for fun.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the future, both directly after UGA and further down the road?
A: What I really want to do is go to med school when I graduate. Where I want to be [down the line] is a tough question. I want to join the Navy, actually. I’m going to be doing a Navy program, hopefully, after I get into med school and after I do my residency. I wanna travel around the world before I settle down. I think that [the Navy program] will be the best way to be able to practice as a doctor and at the same time be fluid enough to go hospital to hospital wherever they need me. I also want to be involved in Doctors Without Borders and go out beyond this country and practice medicine.