Sara is, by nature, a champion. Raised on a 10-acre farm by police-officer parents, she holds six national titles and two world titles for showing and riding horses.
When Sara was 10, her grandmother got sick. Nobody would tell her what was wrong. And after she died, the family didn’t talk about it for a long time because of all the fears and stigma surrounding it. When she finally learned her grandmother died from cancer, she saw that family friends and pets were also succumbing to the disease. That set her on a mission, not just to become an oncologist, but also to educate kids and others so that the rhetoric and cloud surrounding cancer could change.
So she co-founded the FGCU Cancer Research Program with a few other students to work on bridging research and service. Mentored by Dr. Lyndsay Rhodes, students from all over campus can go out into grade schools where there is a lack of cancer education and help children see cancer as something less scary.
Meanwhile, she’s also been working on a breast cancer research program of her own design (again, mentored by Dr. Rhodes) that looks at how people’s normal cells suddenly turn aggressive and attack the body. Her research has been presented nationally and will be published in FGCU’s research journal, Aquila. It’s usually rare to get that kind of exposure as an undergraduate, but such opportunities are not unusual at FGCU.
Prior to attending FGCU, Sara thought of “service” as the hard work her parents did. She wasn’t interested. Now, she’s closing in on 300 total service-learning hours, half of which she did her last semester before graduation. She finally understands her parents’ passion for service and why they invested so much of themselves in it. Her proudest moment was when her parents got to see the work she was doing and meet the faculty who inspired her.
Sara came to FGCU a championship equestrian. She is leaving a champion of breast cancer research and cancer awareness.