Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO)
University of Mississippi

Elizabeth Whitaker

 Pre-medicalElizabeth Whitaker Student from Rockfall, CT


Why did you decide to pursue this health profession? Pursuing a career as a physician is all I have ever considered. I wanted to enter a field where I would regularly face new challenges and be able to collaborate with others. A field where I would examine all available options and be able to put them together to achieve the optimal result I could for the patient in front of me. Medicine is unique because there is never a mundane “fix-all.” The personal connections you establish with your patients impact your treatment plan, and can allow an individual to live a longer, happier, and healthier life. This is exactly the type of work that I want to do and the impact that I want to have in my career.

What is your major and why did you choose it? I’m a biology major and chemistry minor. To be quite frank, I chose this major initially because I thought all pre-meds were biology majors and that that’s what you did. Once I later realized that that was not the case, I realized that I genuinely love biology. I discovered my passion for experimentation and data analysis through my thesis research in the biology department. However, if that is not the case for you and you want to become a physician I can assure you that you can major in whatever you want and take the prerequisites for medical school. My roommate is actually an engineering major that is a premedical student!

How has the HPAO helped you? Throughout the entire medical school application process I was in contact with the HPAO daily, despite COVID. I took a course with Ms. Kelli where she guided us through the entire process and assured us that we had a head start in writing our application. She took the time to read my personal statement and experiences countless times, making detailed comments and edits when I needed them most.

For the duration of my undergraduate career I have been a frequent flyer in Dr. Taylor’s office. From doubting my competitiveness as an applicant after a tough semester, to celebrating my first interview, I am never shy to schedule an appointment with him to talk things through. He really takes the time to make sure I leave the HPAO feeling better than when I entered, and with the resources I need to succeed.

Having Dr. Taylor and Ms. Kelli in my court as advocates throughout this intimidating process is one of the best gifts Ole Miss has given me.

What is your most memorable experience working with the HPAO? My most memorable experience working with the HPAO is getting to travel abroad to Guadalajara, Spain through the Atlantis fellowship. Through the HPAO, I heard about this opportunity, and was able to earn class credit during winter intersession while shadowing physicians abroad. This experience deepened my passion for medicine in ways that I had never anticipated. I had the opportunity to shadow general surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, and nephrology, while being fully immersed in a different culture and an entirely different healthcare system. I was also given the opportunity to communicate with patients from different cultural backgrounds which prepared me to interact with patients from all cultures in my future career.

What are your career goals? I hope to pursue a career as a primary care physician. One of my major career goals is to be able to participate in global health projects. I would love to one day contribute in tackling the global burden of health disparities and disease both domestically and abroad. I believe that after receiving a medical education it is essential to be able to use those tools to give back to the most vulnerable populations.

What is your favorite meal in Oxford? A cookout hotdog!

What are you happiest doing when not working or studying? I love to start my mornings doing hot yoga!