When Foundation Fellow Tracy Yang traveled to Atlanta last October to interview for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, she had two things working in her favor.
Tracy – who graduated from UGA in May with a degree in anthropology – was more than familiar with Oxford, England. She spent a month there in 2008 with other first-year Fellows in the program’s inaugural Oxford Maymester. “I think it helped me because I had a concrete idea of what to expect, even if I only got a taste of the rigor of the courses and what the scheduling was like,” said Tracy, whose future plans include attending Johns Hopkins Medical School upon her return from Oxford.
And as the former recipient of a Truman Scholarship, the Macon native was more than prepared for the detailed interview she had with the Rhodes committee. “Going for the Truman prepared me a great deal for the Rhodes experience because the Truman interviews are also very challenging,” Tracy said of the public service and leadership scholarship she won as a third-year student.
Tracy was one of 32 undergraduates across the nation to be named a 2011 Rhodes Scholar and was the only student from Georgia to receive the honor that year. She is UGA’s 22nd Rhodes Scholar and the third UGA female to win the scholarship since 1976, the first year women were eligible to apply. Before Tracy, UGA’s most recent recipients were Foundation Fellows Deep Shah and Kate Vyborny in 2008.
With her previous Oxford experience still fresh in her mind, Tracy looks forward to the academic challenges that await her as she pursues an MSc in medical anthropology next year through Oxford’s Balliol College: “The structure of seminars and tutorials is very different from the American system. It allows you time to reflect on what you’re studying and also the way that you conceptualize problems, information, and material.”
With aspirations to become a physician-policy analyst, Tracy has concentrated her research as well as her local and international involvement on efforts to address public health disparities and to improve access to services. She spent the summer of 2010 interning for the Greater New York Hospital Association and in 2008 participated in the Nathan Schnaper Cancer Research Intern Program.
Closer to home, Tracy has worn several hats as part of UGA’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a student-run think tank and policy organization located on 75 college campuses, and she also served as an editor for the University’s Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, an online undergraduate research journal. In the local community, she interned with the Athens Health Network and mentored young students in Athens-Clarke County.
As a sophomore, Tracy conducted research on the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi under the guidance of Rick Tarleton, Distinguished Research Professor in Cellular Biology. The parasite, which causes Chagas disease, has infected approximately 18 million people in Latin America.
Abroad, Tracy studied in Australia and Guatemala and traveled to Nicaragua, working with medical personnel who provide health services to residents through community hospitals or home visits.
For her part, Tracy said she is grateful for the encouragement and assistance she’s received as an Honors student and Foundation Fellow. “Faculty and staff are really interested in seeing every student pursue what makes him or her happy. It might not be big-name scholarships, but it doesn’t mean any less. That has meant so much to me and my peers, and it’s something very special about UGA. I’ve had the honor of working with some amazing faculty through the years, and I’ve never felt like I was angled to do this or go after that scholarship. It’s always been, Well, what are you interested in doing?”
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