by Bryan Lindenberger

If you told Calleigh Hitt in high school where she’d be now, she would have thought you were crazy.

Calleigh Hitt with long hair and in glasses stands along a railing with leafy trees behind her.Hitt didn’t see herself entering the medical field. Arts and literature attracted her the most while she attended high school at Holy Ground Baptist Academy in Carrollton.

That’s before she found the right fit at the University of West Georgia, enrolling in the College of Science and Mathematics. That’s where she discovered her unlimited potential with an eye toward medicine.

Hitt said her decision to follow her passion for medicine involved much self-reflection and prayer. To make her journey of discovery easier, UWG awarded her the Zell Miller Scholarship to cover tuition and the Presidential Scholarship to cover other expenses for all four years of undergraduate studies.

“Those awards enabled me to focus on my studies without worrying about debt, which has been an incredible blessing,” Hitt said.

Hitt, who graduated as an Honors College student, made the most of her opportunities while at UWG. She served as both a tutor and supplemental instructor in difficult classes in which she had already attended.

“Assisting others helped me solidify foundations in my studies,” Hitt explained. “Students may struggle with something I had not considered, and so the experience taught me to see technical issues from many angles.”

Hitt said the dedicated faculty and staff of the chemistry department have been incredibly supportive.

“They are fantastic,” Hitt said of the faculty and staff.

With UWG’s faculty so focused on student learning, her work and achievement did not go unnoticed.

“Calleigh Hitt has been praised by her instructors for her intelligence, maturity, work ethic and amazing attitude,” said Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt, professor and chair of the chemistry department. “She served the chemistry department as a lab assistant and supplemental instructor and is well respected for her patience and professionalism among her peers.”

Dr. Victoria J. Geisler, who served as her adviser, also stood out for Hitt.

“Dr. Geisler helped me decide not only what classes to take, but what activities to become involved in,” Hitt said.

Involvement in Emerging Healthcare Leaders, a UWG student organization for those entering medical professions, was one of those activities. Hitt served as vice president, organizing events and arranging for guest speakers in regional health care systems.

Geisler also introduced Hitt to Rapha Clinic of West Georgia, a nonprofit, faith-based initiative serving those individuals living below the poverty line. Hitt volunteered with the organization, and it was this kind of experience that made her excited about the future.

Hitt recently graduated from UWG with a degree in chemistry and with numerous awards, including the American Institute of Chemists Award and the Physical Chemistry Book Award.

Now she is headed to the Mercer University School of Medicine with the assistance of the prestigious Nathan Deal Scholarship. That scholarship, awarded by the Physicians for Rural Georgia Program Committee, will pay nearly 90 percent of her tuition.

In achieving the Nathan Deal Scholarship, Hitt needed to show her solid ties to rural Georgia, including leadership, community involvement and commitment to serve in rural Georgia after training.

“The scholarship will significantly help me in affording my future education,” Hitt said. “The receipt of the scholarship is definitely a relief.”

Posted on June 19, 2018