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Sept. 19, 2016

With the life of a student-athlete as hectic as it is during the school year ââ’¬” balancing practice, competition, school, and of course a social life ââ’¬” many might opt for a relaxing summer to recharge their battery. But for South Carolina volleyball sophomore Jesse Turner, the free time allowed her a unique opportunity to broaden her education.

Turner, a biology major from Austin, Texas, had an opportunity to shadow two OB/GYNs (obstetrician-gynecologist) in late May back in her hometown. The doctors, Dr. Diana Wang and Dr. Christopher Seeker, allowed Turner to witness incredible moments in medicine up close and personal. She even had the unique opportunity to meet the doctor who delivered her.

“I got to see hysterectomies, deliveries and C-sections, it was really interactive,” Turner said. “I was able to stand up right at the operating table with scrubs and a mask on, and the doctors were so great. They walked me through everything they were doing, and for some of the procedures they go in with a camera and projected it on to the monitor and they’d say ‘alright Jesse, what’s this?’ and I would answer them. They were so instructive, and helpful. I had such a great time.”

One experience that stuck out to Turner was her first time observing a live birth.

“I was trying to not cry watching the first one because it was so cool,” Turner recalled. “When I went, my mom said ‘it’s ok if you feel faint or want to sit down, I know you want to be a doctor but this is normal’, but I honestly just thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Turner said her love for medicine was fostered at an early age, through role models like her aunt (who is currently a doctor in Alaska), and some unique ââ’¬” albeit improvised ââ’¬” experiences at a young age.

“It started when I was pretty young, my grandpa let me take out his stiches when I was in elementary school, I super-glued one of my friend’s cuts closed when they sliced it on glass because I had done a similar thing early that month and I said ‘I know what the doctor did, I’ll try it’,” Turner said, laughing. “I don’t know, it’s something I’ve just always been interested in.”

All told, Turner spent almost 24 hours shadowing Drs. Wang and Seeker last May, and found the experience to be empowering and an affirmation that she’s on the right path.

“I loved every moment of it, and I could see myself doing that some day,” Turner said. I still want to keep my options open, but it was such an amazing experience and I would say if anything, it reinforced my interest in medicine. Not necessarily just as an OB/GYN, but it made me feel like medicine is what I’m passionate about and want to pursue.”

Turner, a straight-A student for the Gamecocks, credits the resources and advisors at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center and an understanding coaching staff for much of her success at South Carolina.

“The coaches here have been amazing, working around my schedule,” Turner said. “Last spring when I had to take labs that caused me to miss practices, Shonda (Cole, assistant coach) would go in with me at different times of the day to do one-on-ones because I missed that group time. I feel like at different schools or even in different sports, there’s not that flexibility and I’m so appreciative of the coaches for letting me pursue my dreams.”