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Callan Russell

Joy P. Williams Science Awards, Life Science

Dr. Joy Williams was a professor of microbiology and served as the associate director of the Honors Program for 20 years. This award was created in her memory to recognize outstanding female students in the sciences. It is one of the highest honors that the Honors Program can bestow on female students majoring in the sciences.


Major: Genetics
Minors/certificates: Music
Hometown: McDonough, GA

Activities/Honors: Graduating summa cum laude, Crane Leadership Scholar, Presidential Scholar, Knight-Hennessy Scholar, Dean’s List, Undergraduate Research Assistant, recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence, the CURO Research Assistantship, and the Vincent Dooley Redcoat Marching Band Scholarship, member, Trombone Section Leader, and Band Captain of the Redcoat Marching Band and member of the Redcoat Bible Study group, Extra Special People Volunteer, Athens Church UpStreet Small Group Leader, and University of South Carolina School of Medicine's Genetic Counseling Program Summer Intern

What I like most about the Honors Program: The Honors Program has the resources and people available to support you in your biggest aspirations. Jessica Hunt is an unstoppable force of advice, support, and honesty. It's individuals like Jessica who enable Honors students to succeed and who have been instrumental in shaping my personal trajectory. The Honors Program sees potential and cultivates it, stands behind it, and connects it with the resources necessary to succeed. The opportunity to have what are typically large lectures with the same core group of people was also one of the aspects that I enjoyed most.

Why I chose my major: I knew my end goal, that I wanted to be a genetic counselor, but I wasn't quite sure what major to pick. In the middle of exploring my options, Dr. Bedell invited me to her office to talk this decision through with her. This was the first hint that the Genetics Department was different. The hints only continued as I joined Dr. Schmitz' Lab, met my fellow genetics majors, and built a relationship with Dr. Westpheling, my favorite professor and person. The curriculum of the genetics major drew me in as it was perfectly aligned with my interests; however, this has been a happy coincidence, as the relationships I've build with faculty and students within the genetics department have reinforced that I made the right decision every single day.

Post-graduation plans: I will be continuing my education in the MS Program in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling through the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program at Stanford University!