Having grown up in Mountain Rest, South Carolina, a spit of a town tucked into the northwest corner of the Palmetto State, Grace Moxley knows a thing or two about rural life.
She is more than familiar with the long drives just to get to a restaurant, the requisite trek to the next town over to go to high school and the limited access to healthcare, particularly for those who are uninsured.
That is why the Honors College senior has spent the last four years focused on getting to medical school so that she can one day help fill the healthcare void in her hometown.
“There are societal factors that matter, there are economic factors that matter in how you treat your patients,” says the biology major and Spanish minor. “When you’re practicing medicine in a rural area not all of your patients are going to be able to adhere to the regimen that you want to prescribe them because they may have barriers that prevent them from traveling an hour to get to the hospital or they may not be able to afford the first-line recommendation for a given medication.”
Moxley, who is a Huge Scholar, is poised to realize her goal after she graduates on Saturday, May 13, 2017: she has earned the Robert W. Woodruff Fellowship to attend the Emory University School of Medicine on a full scholarship.
“Being at this undergraduate-focused institution, you really get the opportunity to take control of your education and to go as far with it as you would like to because you have the support of your faculty members. It was so easy for me to jump right in and be supported all the way through and I think that’s made a big difference in preparing me for medical school.”
Since arriving at CofC, this intensely driven young woman has steadfastly worked toward her career aspirations. She quickly immersed herself in public health research as a member of the College’s Women’s Health Research Team, studying the promotion of long-acting, reversible conception methods among college-aged females and the use of castor oil as an alternative method of labor induction.
Moxley’s research was published in the Journal of Health Communication and Health Behavior and Policy Review. She also presented her findings on castor oil to the Academy of Women’s Health in Washington D.C. and her study on contraception methods at the Society of Public Health Education in Portland, Oregon.
Moxley also tailored her studies in Spanish to meet her future needs. She took a Spanish course in medical terminology and Spanish 400, which placed her with the Medical University of South Carolina’s Perinatal Awareness for Successful Outcomes, a program that provides education and outreach to expectant Latino mothers.
And she has seen first-hand the impact such care can have on vulnerable populations, having spent her summers volunteering at a free clinic in Walhalla, South Carolina, that primarily served undocumented farmworkers, including expectant mothers.
The William Aiken Fellow, whose time at the College was guided by the Health Professions Advising Program, credits her success to the individual attention she received from her professors and the opportunities she was able to take advantage of at their encouragement.
“Being at this undergraduate-focused institution, you really get the opportunity to take control of your education and to go as far with it as you would like to because you have the support of your faculty members,” she says. “It was so easy for me to jump right in and be supported all the way through and I think that’s made a big difference in preparing me for medical school.”
Moxley adds, “Being able to really understand all of the societal factors that affect health and health disparity is important to me and having this public health education here at the College of Charleston and hopefully building off of that at Emory is really going to prepare me to work in rural healthcare.”
Featured image by Reese Moore.