Paying it Forward

Scholarship Empowers Student to Focus on Pre-med Career

Georgia Southern sophomore Sidney Hopper has a keen ability to focus. She is an Honors Program scholar, an ROTC student and a biochemistry major with a 3.92 GPA. Additionally, she is pursuing a double minor in military science and in Arabic – one of the hardest languages for anyone to learn. A recipient of the Ben Waller/Kiwanis Club of Statesboro Scholarship, Hopper’s goal is to become a doctor in the U.S. Army.

“I love the Army so far and the ROTC program,” she said. “I think I’ll be really happy with the Army. I like what it stands for and I like being a part of a team. I think I will also like helping our soldiers and helping others in different countries.”

She says the Ben Waller/Kiwanis Club of Statesboro Scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time to help her reach her educational and career goals.

“The scholarship means I can do more things while I am in school like study abroad,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to hopefully studying abroad in Morocco and Romania and getting involved in other activities like I did with Phi Delta Epsilon, which is a medical fraternity, and the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. The funds will definitely help with things like that.”

Hopper is from Oneonta, Alabama, a small town on the outskirts of Birmingham. She finished high school in Savannah and heard a lot about Georgia Southern from her sister Claudia, a senior, who is majoring in international studies and Arabic.

“I’d come up and visit and I really liked how homey and comfortable it felt,” she said. “Everything was really personal. But the ROTC and the Honors programs are probably the two main things that made me come to Georgia Southern because of the opportunities both offered.”

Organic chemistry, Arabic and the ROTC curriculum are among her Hopper’s favorite classes. This fall, Hopper helped coordinate two Basic Life Support (BLS) classes to help 36 cadets get certified over a two-week span. She and her fellow cadet Michelle Phantja enlisted several EMTs to teach the BLS class to the cadets at the Military Science Building. She said getting involved in various ROTC activities is very fulfilling.

“I like that it has different courses that help develop us into leaders,” she said. “I like the classes that we have, the labs that we go to where what they taught us in class is then put into action. I also like that it helps us stay regular students as well so we can still focus on our actual degree and still be a student and get involved in other activities around campus. We’re getting a lot of different training, different areas.”

In her major, she is participating in undergraduate research with Biochemistry Professor Michele McGibony, Ph.D. McGibony is conducting research into photodynamic therapy agents that, when exposed to a specific wavelength of light, can produce reactive oxygen species that would then target and attack tumor cells. Away from campus, Hopper is involved in a church group and she volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. The scholarship recipient said she couldn’t be happier about her decision to become a Georgia Southern student. — Sandra Bennett