Most people go to great lengths to avoid germs that can make them sick or even cause death. Junior Kylie Burke plans to make a career out of them.
A double major in biology and chemistry in the College of Charleston Honors College and a pitcher on the softball team, Burke spent last summer as an intern in the microbiology and infectious disease unit at Emory University Hospital in her native Atlanta.
Over the course of the summer, Burke had a hands-on learning experience that included working with some of the rarest and deadliest diseases on the planet, not only in the lab, but also directly with patients. She event got to assist in Emory’s Ebola unit.
For Burke, the internship continued a lifelong interest shaped by her father, Greg, a physicians’ assistant at Emory.
“My dad took me to [physicians’ assistant] lectures and labs at an early age, so I’ve always had an inclination towards medicine,” says Burke. “He exposed me to different aspects of the field and helped guide me in my class choices.”
It’s Burke’s curiosity and drive that’s propelled her to pursue her academic and athletic interests. Most college students have enough trouble navigating the demands of the classroom let alone the extra time required of a double major and a student-athlete.
Burke credits her success of managing such a demanding schedule to her family and softball teammates.
“I’m very lucky to have some of the best teammates anyone could hope for,” she says. “If I ever show up to the field feeling stressed, they instantly make me laugh and help me forget something that may have gone bad about school or softball. Having that group of women around me is a great lift.”
And her parents have always been her biggest supporters.
“They are always encouraging me, even when I don’t think I can get through a particularly rough course, or can do it on the field,” says Burke. “They’ve always believed in me. They keep encouraging me even when the medical schools I want to apply to have very low acceptance rates.”
Featured image: Kylie Burke at the softball stadium at the Patriots Point Athletics Complex in Mt. Pleasant. (Photo by Marquise Pointer)