Valdosta Daily Times

July 15, 2013

Checkup: Local graduates now doctors

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Three local ladies have been staying busy following their high school graduations, and all of that hard work is paying off. Ashely Elam, Laura Harrison and Nisha Gupta were all three previously recognized for receiving their white coats at the Medical College of Georgia. These three ladies are now in their residencies and have much to be proud of.

Harrison graduated from Valdosta High School in 2005. She went to the University of Georgia where she received her Bachelors of Science in Microbiology. She then began medical school at Medical College of Georgia and is now doing her residency at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., through Tuft University School of Medicine.

Elam graduated from Lowndes High School in 2004.  She received her associate degree in science from Darton College in Albany.  She continued her education at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, where she

graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She played soccer throughout her college career. She just graduated from Medical College of Georgia in 2013 and is currently in residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she is doing a combined Med-Peds residency.

Gupta graduated from Valdosta High as salutatorian in 2005. She then went to the University of Georgia where she majored in Cellular Biology and minored in Spanish. At UGA, Gupta was in the Honors Program and graduated with high honors. She attended Medical College of Georgia for medical school and is now a Pediatrics Resident at Emory.

All three women have been interested in the medical field for many years, thanks in large part to their family’s involvement in medicine. Gupta, whose father and grandfather were both physicians, explained, “Being able to see the care they provided people and the relationships they formed with their patients was the greatest inspiration I could ask for.”

Elam, whose mother was a home health pharmacist, recalled that she and her sisters loved going to work with their mother. “We loved watching her through the glass windows as she compounded

medicines and went to patient’s houses and just have all around fond memories of that place. Also, I had three grandparents pass away with cancer, and I just saw how much a good physician can mean to a person and to a family when times are tough.  There just aren’t that many fields where you get to have such a personal interaction with other human beings.”

Harrison, whose mother is a medical technician at South Georgia Medical Center, explained that watching her mother be so passionate about her work was what got her interested in the medical field. “I enjoyed hearing about her work from her. My love for the field just grew from there,” she explained.

These ladies have big dreams for their futures, though they aren’t all certain exactly where they will end up. Gupta hopes to one day become a pediatrician. Elam would like to one day be able to teach medical students. Harrison hopes to be involved with the community in whatever work she does, though she isn’t sure where that will be at this point.

And while some people might move on to bigger cities and forget their roots, these ladies have not forgotten the support they received in Valdosta. All three ladies cited reasons why they feel growing up here helped their careers.

Gupta shared, “I think the biggest factor was the great support from teachers and mentors. Also, I feel like the medical community was also very supportive as several doctors allowed me to shadow them and learn from their expertise while I still lived in Valdosta.”

“There was a lot of support at the high school through the career development program. Through that program, I was able to shadow several local doctors, Dr. Loeffler, Dr. Griner, and Dr. Woods.  I also was able to work/shadow in other offices,” explained Elam.

Harrison also recognized VHS by sharing, “Going to VHS, I was with a diverse group of people. While I was growing up, I didn’t realize that this would be such an advantage. It has helped me with my patience and it has helped me be better prepared to work with patients. I also had great teachers in school.”

Through it all, these ladies are especially thankful for their families. Elam is the daughter of Nancy and Rodney Elam. Gupta is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Arvind Gupta. Harrison is the daughter of Andy and Jill Harrison.