Shannon Frink is a master's student in exercise physiology who aspires to become a family physician and public health educator. Her occupational goal stems from her passion for serving others and preventing and decreasing health disparities in her community. She is currently conducting research in the School of Kinesiology and volunteers locally at Mercy Medical and Women's Hope Medical clinics. Christin Walker, the eldest of four children and a first-generation college student pursuing a master's in exercise science, is eagerly engaged in research projects in the School of Kinesiology and enjoys volunteering at GiGi's Playhouse and local food banks. Frink and Walker are co-founders of the newly established Auburn University chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, an organization established to unite pre-medical students and diversify the face of medicine. Frink currently serves as president of the organization, and Walker serves as vice president.
1. What brought you to Auburn University?
Frink: Dr. Rosalind Bass was my research mentor at Spelman College, where she introduced me to the wonderful world of kinesiology. While conducting musculoskeletal research in her lab, I realized the significance of understanding the how and the why of body movement. My research focused on the respiratory system and how Hatha yoga may in fact be a novel treatment for asthma in college-aged African-American women. My research sparked my interest in the field of exercise physiology, so I went back to Dr. Bass and inquired about nationally known, progressive kinesiology programs. She eagerly recommended Auburn's School of Kinesiology. She also informed me of the funding opportunities available to me due to Auburn's efforts to diversify the student body. Once I toured Auburn's campus during my junior year at Spelman, I was totally sold on Auburn and desired to join the Auburn Family.
Walker: Frankly, a thirst for knowledge and Dr. Rosalind Bass, who informed me about the master's program offered by the School of Kinesiology at Auburn. After researching the program and speaking with Dr. Jared Russell, I decided that Auburn was the next destination on my journey to becoming a physician. Since kinesiology is the study of human movement, I thought the knowledge I would gain from this program would be beneficial throughout my matriculation in medical school.
2. How do you think your Auburn experience is helping to shape your future in medicine?
Frink: I graduated from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. I left undergrad with a clear understanding of the microscience of how the body works. I understood the acids and bases, organic molecules, etc., but I did not know how to apply my knowledge to the field of medicine. It was not until I enrolled in the exercise science program that I actually understood the macroscience of how the body works. The School of Kinesiology taught me how to apply my knowledge. I learned the how at Spelman, but now I comprehend the why of the human body. I believe that successful and effective doctors have a concrete understanding of the how and the why. Their knowledge allows for them to make wise medical decisions in reference to their patients. Wise medical decisions can be the difference between life and death.
Walker: My experience here has given me the opportunity to learn about kinesiology, an area of science that I had not had a chance to thoroughly explore. This program is allowing me to expand my knowledge about the human body, which I will be able to directly apply to my studies as a medical student and in my practice as a physician.
3. You have been instrumental in establishing the first Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students at Auburn. What is this program and why is it important for Auburn?
Frink: The Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students is an organization that was birthed from the Student National Medical Association. SNMA, established in 1964 by medical students at Howard University and Meharry Medical College, is the oldest and largest student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color. MAPS was established at Auburn to unify the pre-medical student body and serve Lee County through educating the community about current health disparities that affect the Auburn-Opelika region.
4. What advice would you give to students who want to pursue work in the medical field?
Walker: One thing that comes to mind is to not be fearful of majoring in a subject outside the field of science. Medical schools only require certain prerequisites, not specific majors. School should be fun, not torture. Pursuing a degree in medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. You must remain focused and driven. Everyone's journey to success is different. Do not look to the right or to the left; keep your eyes focused on your goal and soon that dream will be realized.
5. What is your favorite thing about Auburn?
Frink: My favorite thing about Auburn is the culture of the school. Auburn is a place where passion and love collide, producing a progressive student body with a desire to change the world.
Walker: I know you asked what my favorite thing about Auburn is, but I am going to tell you a couple of my favorite things! I love the Recreation and Wellness Center, the undying school spirit and the faculty in the School of Kinesiology.