Southeast Missouri State University senior Grace Powderly knew from a young age that practicing medicine was in her career path.
Powderly, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, will graduate from Southeast on May 14 with a Bachelor of Science in biology, biomedical sciences option, with minors in chemistry and biological and medical sciences entrepreneurship.
As a student, her passion for improving the lives of others with medicine fueled opportunities to give back. She is president of Southeast’s chapter of Global Brigades, an international student-led non-profit that empowers underprivileged communities by providing global health and holistic development. As president, she recruited students to help serve the medical needs of people in Panama.
Powderly also volunteers weekly with the SoutheastHEALTH Cancer Center, is captain of Southeast’s Women’s Tennis Team, and has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA. In the fall, Powderly will attend A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri.
Powderly said she chose Southeast to represent her local community by playing Division 1 tennis at the collegiate level, as well as for its academics. To her, it felt like a great place to call home.
When she looks back on her four years at Southeast, Powderly thinks fondly of experiences with the tennis team, particularly when they won the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Regular-Season Championship — the first tennis championship in Southeast history.
This season, Powderly has been part of two more historic moments in Southeast women’s tennis history: the first OVC Tournament Championship and the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
“Our hard work on and off the court finally paid off, and I loved being able to represent the University with our accomplishment,” Powderly said. “This encompasses more than just the tennis matches we played; I will always remember the early morning practices, road trips, and memories my teammates made throughout the entire season.”
SIX QUESTIONS ABOUT GRACE’S EXPERIENCE
How does it feel to be graduating from Southeast?
I am beyond proud to be graduating from Southeast. This degree symbolizes more than just the academic work I have completed these past four years but also the memories made along the way, the people who have supported me on my journey, and the opportunities I now can pursue.
What inspired you to pursue a degree in biology?
From a young age, I have always wanted to become a physician. I knew a science major would aid me best in reaching this goal, and I fell in love with learning about not only the human body but also all living things down to their molecular levels. I began developing an understanding of the connection between chemistry and biology as I started my degree, which I knew would create a strong basis for my future career in medicine.
How have your experiences as a student-athlete influenced your time at Southeast?
Being a student-athlete at Southeast incredibly impacted my college journey these past four years. It has aided me in my personal growth, teaching me to always display strong perseverance, commitment, and responsibility in everything I do. I will use these skills every day in my future, translating what I have learned on the tennis court into lifelong skills that will allow me to be a strong and committed physician. Athletics has also provided me with an incredible cultural experience, teaching me the importance of cultural competence by working with my international teammates each day on and off the court.
How have your experiences at Southeast prepared you for a career after graduation?
The faculty at Southeast have prepared me extremely well to conquer medical school and succeed in my future. I believe I have not only increased my academic knowledge in the past four years, but I have also grown as an individual by developing strong leadership skills, cultural competence, and time management skills.
What are you looking forward to next in your higher education journey?
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to attend A.T. Still University to pursue my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. This opportunity will allow me to become a selfless and knowledgeable physician capable of treating patients and changing lives. I am most excited to begin working directly with patients, as I strive to become a patient-oriented physician in the future.
Although I have not yet decided on a specialty, I am extremely interested in pursuing pediatric oncology. My younger cousin, Alex, passed away last year from Stage 4 cancer, and I strive to be able to make an impact in the lives of kids in similar situations to Alex. I hope to one day play a role in the lives of those suffering from cancer, even if I cannot completely cure or diminish an individual's disease.