Sydni Lollar, Why I Chose Medicine
By Ashley Brantley, BCBST Reporter - August 24, 2020
Repost by Permission May 1, 2021
Honor Student, Biomedical Engineering Major, University of Tennessee Knoxville
At 16, most girls are worrying about passing their driver’s license test. Sydni Lollar was worrying about the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis. “I had a tumor in my breast, which was especially scary because my aunt battled breast cancer in her 20s,” she says. Fortunately, the mass was benign, and Sydni took more away from the experience than just a sense of relief.
“The care, support and healing that I received convinced me that I wanted to be a doctor,” she says. “I want to be the positive light for others that my doctor was for me.”
After spending a summer shadowing doctors and sitting in on surgeries, Sydni narrowed her path even further. “I found my calling in orthopedics,” she says. “I like the balance between patient interaction and surgical skill.”
As a biomedical engineering major with double minors in business administration and leadership studies, Sydni is busy working toward her goal. Somehow, she still finds time to participate in leadership roles with the Jones Center for Leadership and Service, the Society of Women Engineers and her school’s Student Government Association. Last year, she was also part of the Nutrition Education Activity Training (NEAT) program, where she taught nutrition to kids in grades 2-5 at Shannondale Elementary School in Knoxville.
But since COVID-19 hit, Sydni’s life has looked different. She’s been living at home in Greeneville, taking classes online and working at a nursing home with her brother. They both work 12-hour shifts, screening visitors and helping loved ones stay connected. “We can’t allow family members to come into the home, but we do take residents outside to a plexiglass structure where they can safely visit with friends and family,” she says. “We call it the Love Hut!”
COVID-19 has also taken a toll on Sydni’s family. Her father owns a sports bar that has been closed for months and stands little chance of reopening. Until now, she’s been worried about how she’d pay for tuition, books and rent.
“School is really expensive,” she says, “but this scholarship will help make up for the support my parents have given me in the past. Receiving it is a tremendous honor.”
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Sydni was AHERN’s 2018 Student of The Year.