Sara Pierce UM Senior Sarah Pierce of Jackson, Tenn. served as the student speaker at the recent induction of this year's Phi Kappa Phi national honor society. As a Bachelor of General Studies major completing courses in biology, chemistry, and Spanish, she was recently accepted into the University of Tennessee Dental School in Memphis.

Pierce has been involved in several service projects in Haiti and Nicaragua during her time at Ole Miss.

BGS Honor Grad Prepares for Career in Dentistry

Serving others inspires UM student for future work

OXFORD, Miss. – Sarah Pierce says she came to the University of Mississippi because of the community atmosphere she felt when visiting campus. She says she stayed because of the opportunities she found to make a difference in the Ole Miss community and others around the world.

During her time at UM, the senior from Jackson, Tennessee, was able to serve impoverished communities in Nicaragua and Haiti through the Ole Missions student service organization.

During Wintersession of her freshmen year in 2016, Pierce took her first trip with a group of fellow Ole Miss students to Nicaragua. They spent the week building trenches that would eventually bring a new water line to the community of Chinandega.

"It was so rewarding to be a part of something life-changing for this town," Pierce said.

During her sophomore and junior years, she led groups of students serving in Haiti during spring break. The group helped paint houses, plant trees and share their faith with people in the community.

Her mission work and love of science helped Pierce decide to pursue a career path in dentistry. As a Bachelor of General Studies major, she designed her unique degree program to include minors in biology, chemistry and Spanish.

She has been accepted into the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry beginning this fall.

"I love Spanish, but I knew I wanted to go into the medical field," she said. "Choosing these three programs allowed me to combine my interests into something that worked perfectly for me."

Gerald Rowland, instructional assistant professor in the UM Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said Pierce proved to be a highly motivated and accomplished student in his organic chemistry classes.

"She tries to do her best at everything she is attempting," he said. "She also wanted to help others do their best.

"During in-class activities, after Sarah completed her work, she would get up and help her classmates to understand the class material as well."

Pierce has been inducted into numerous academic honor societies at UM, including the Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi, national honor society Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key International Honor Society and the Ole Miss chapter of Who's Who.

Jason Klodt, an associate professor of Spanish, said that during her time in his courses, he saw an originality and precision that revealed Pierce's inquisitive mind at work.

"I was consistently impressed by her eagerness to learn, her thoughtfulness and her positive attitude," Klodt said. "She was such an asset in promoting a collaborative learning environment in the classroom.

"Sarah showed a maturity, a nuanced understanding of the world and an admirable drive to help others."

Along with service and studies, she was a member of Chi Omega sorority, where she mentored new freshmen as a rush chair this fall.

"I remember when older girls would reach out to me as a freshman to make me feel welcome, and I wanted to do the same," she said. "I wasn't as concerned with which group they would join, but I wanted to help them feel comfortable and know that someone cared about them."

Pierce was asked to be the student speaker during this year's Phi Kappa Phi induction ceremony. During her speech, she shared how her UM education is shaping her life.

"My time at Ole Miss has given me the confidence to believe in myself and to believe that I can succeed," she said. "It has given me endless opportunities and a purpose in my life."