Another future doctor with a unique scientific foundation thanks to Georgia Tech, Sarah Michaela Nay is graduating with a B.S. in Psychology. Nay, who went to Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia, wants to focus on women’s and children’s health issues as a practicing physician. That choice was validated at Tech, thanks to her undergraduate research and a certain professor’s input.
What attracted you to Georgia Tech?
I was drawn to Georgia Tech because of its rigor and prestige. The idea of a challenge was enticing and exciting. My dad also attended Tech, so there may have been some interest because I grew up cheering for the Yellow Jackets.
How would you describe your life before enrolling in Georgia Tech?
My high school career was pretty balanced. I took as many advanced placement courses as I could, but also spent plenty of time socializing and attending sporting events and dances. I also was president of the National English Honors Society. I worked hard enough in high school, but I definitely took for granted the low levels of time and effort that were needed to get good grades.
What is the most important thing you learned at Georgia Tech?
I learned humility and appreciation. Georgia Tech met my expectations for being a challenge. It really embodied the saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
In high school it was easy to skate by and expect to be in the top percentage of every class, but the rigor of Tech quickly changes your tune. You learn to work hard, to collaborate, to ask for help when you need it, and to recognize that nothing is lost in working together.
What surprised or disappointed you the most about Georgia Tech?
I was both surprised and disappointed by the same aspect of Georgia Tech: the “college-y” classes. I always hoped I would have the freedom to take courses with professors who expressed political views or held debates on current events. I had plenty of free electives, but they were mainly applied toward my pre-med requirements.
I was able to take a few courses, like Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, that allowed me a glimpse into this ideal college experience. However, I knew that going to a more technical school would not allow me all of the freedoms that I may have had if I had gone to a strictly liberal arts college.
Which professor(s) or class(es) made a big impact on you?
Narin Hassan, my gender studies professor, taught a unit on medicine and feminism that really expanded my interest in women’s health, specifically the birthing process. It confirmed my desire to be an OB/GYN.
What is your most vivid memory of Georgia Tech?
One of my most vivid memories at Tech was working with the Women’s Recruitment Team and hosting prospective new students, one of whom ended up becoming a sorority sister. I remember taking her on a tour of campus.It was such a cool experience to get to see Tech for the first time again through someone else’s eyes.
If you participated in experiential learning activities, what was the most valuable outcome of your experience?
I did undergraduate research in the Problem Solving and Educational Technology Lab for a few semesters before working at the Child Study Lab (CSL). I’ve worked in CSL for a few years now on a project that introduces psychology to interactive computing.
The most valuable thing I took away from all of these experiences is flexibility – adapting to new environments while keeping an open mind and allowing myself a grace period to learn.
On the basis of your experience, what advice would you give to incoming freshmen at Georgia Tech?
Don’t compare yourself to your classmates. It is easy to slip into a competitive outlook. Don’t. Keep sticking to the path that works best for you, whatever that looks like.
What feedback would you give to Georgia Tech to improve the campus experience for future students?
Keep and maybe even expand upon the requirements that target a more well-rounded educational experience. I was disappointed to hear that the Global Perspectives requirement was removed, because I think that if anyone could use a little perspective, it’s students at Georgia Tech. It’s easy for us to get so wrapped up in this little bubble that we lose touch with the outside world.
Where are you headed after graduation?
I plan on taking the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) this summer, work for a year with people with autism, and then continuing to medical school to become an OB/GYN. Tech has prepared me for many of these goals, from the cumulative curriculum of the pre-med courses to the lab experience in working with children with autism spectrum disorder.