Finding Greatness: Sarah Choi

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 8:00 AM
Categories: Students | School of Health and Natural Sciences | Pressroom | Finding Greatness

Cochran, GA


Georgia Academy student Sarah Choi, a biology major, has received a full scholarship to attend Yale University this fall. Georgia Academy at Middle Georgia State University (MGA) is a residential option for high school students to earn college credit while simultaneously competing high school.

Full Name: Sarah Mirae Choi.

Age: 17.

Hometown: Byron.

Residence: Tuscaloosa, Ala.

High School: Peach County High School and the Georgia Academy of Arts, Mathematics, Engineering, and Science at MGA.

Family: Parents, Hye Eun Lee and Sung San Choi; siblings, Isaac Choi, Joy Love Choi, Faith Choi, Grace Choi; pets, Ellie, a feline vagabond; Leo, a feline fugitive; Theodore Roosevelt and Toto, guinea pigs.

Employment: MGA Mathematics Academic Resource Center (MARC) student tutor on the Cochran Campus; Georgia Academy ambassador.

Degree Objective: Associate’s degree in biology at MGA; bachelor’s in neuroscience and global affairs at Yale University.

Class Rank: College sophomore; high school senior.

Primary Campus: Cochran.


- Volunteer at Bryant Health and Rehabilitation Center

- Biophysics undergraduate researcher under the instruction of Dr. Jonathan Cannon

- Vice president of Mock Mediation

- Vice president of Science Club

- Model African Union

- Math team

- Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, neurological biology major

- NSLI-y South Korea study abroad, funded by the United States Department of State

- Future Problem Solving International

- Future Business Leaders of America, president (1 year)

- District and Region Honor Band, clarinetist

- Student Government class representative

- National Honor Society

Career Goals: “Upon meeting an Australian team working with dementia patients in 1950’s music therapy, I realized finding solutions to neurological issues requires the ideas of professionals and students worldwide. So, I became a neurology major at Georgia’s Governor’s Honors Program and began to deeply explore mental processes and mechanisms. Many of the disorders we learned about came to life as I witnessed the crushing effects of neurodegenerative diseases that residents at my local rehabilitation center face. Seeing the difficulties they endure, I’m determined to contribute to neuroscience and global affair efforts to find cures for people affected by neurological disorders worldwide.”

She chose Middle Georgia State University because … “I felt optimistic about the prospects of finding a new community. I wished to be surrounded by peers, mentors, and professors who hold a genuine interest in discovery and learning. I knew that at an institution such as MGA, I would be able to seek new opportunities such as undergraduate research, university clubs, and collegiate competitions. Furthermore, Middle Georgia State University offered a unique opportunity for me to be truly immersed in the community with its program, the Georgia Academy.”

The greatest thing she discovered about Middle Georgia State was … “Here at the Georgia Academy (a subtle salute), I’ve lived through immense joy, fun, and stress alongside fellow academy students nearly every moment of the day. Despite coming from backgrounds represented by different races, socioeconomic status, and beliefs, my peers and I have formed an uplifting and encouraging community. Here, I found a new will to study harder and live life more exuberantly. Encouraged to explore unfamiliar organizations, I found myself competing with clubs such as Mock Mediation, Math Team, and Model African Union. Moreover, I came to realize how incredible the professors at MGA truly are. In my previous classrooms, it was rare to find an instructor who truly loved what he/she taught, but at MGA, finding professors who are passionate about their fields is the norm. My professors have challenged me to stretch what I believed were the limits of my brain, all while helping me maintain an enthusiasm for learning.”

Her greatest academic experiences as a Middle Georgia State student have been … 1) "'The answer is six?’ I couldn’t suppress a smile. The answer was most definitely was six. After an hour of tutoring, the freshman stood up to leave. But before he left, he shook my hand and told me that math had never made sense before, but maybe today would be the start of something new. Since then, every moment working at the MARC has been so rewarding."

2) “When I stepped into the auditorium, my heart was relieved. There was a significant number of staff and students eager to hear this professor’s perspectives on measles and the importance of vaccines-- just as the outbreaks were occurring in New York. Here was the beginning of our humble Science Speakers Series. With his signature accent, Dr. Makaya exclaimed, ‘I am so proud of my outstanding delegations.’ For the delegates of Zambia, Rwanda, and Burundi, it’s always a successful Southeastern Model African Union Conference."

3) “’Oh. It worked.’ After hours of writing and rewriting the Matlab code, the ‘ans’ appeared on the screen.With his two words, never in my life have I felt more relieved. ‘Congratulations, Sarah,’ Dr. K nonchalantly said as he briefly skimmed my spectroscopy quiz. Solving the puzzles of organic chemistry always seemed to be an impossible task, but on that day, perhaps God took pity on me and helped the hours of studying come into play." 

4) “Above all, I will always cherish the Georgia Academy’s satirical production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the fiercest debates over puritan theology.”

To her, greatness means … “I suppose greatness is found in a moment. Greatness is when Dr. Cannon works restlessly to ensure that our research project is ready for the upcoming symposium. It’s when Dr. K becomes truly excited by the movement of electrons. It’s when my English professors all ask WHY we care about a topic and press to hear genuine responses from students. It’s in every moment Mr. Wright enthusiastically shares history, and it’s alive in every student Dr. Matt encourages to keep persevering. It’s the laughter and tired faces of the people I see working in the Math and Science departments (hi, Meghan) and in Welch Hall (hi, Ms. Susan.) It’s alive in every Georgia Academy student working tirelessly to balance high school and college academics and general life as they help each other thrive (and survive). So yes, greatness is found in moments - ones that are dedicated to the service of others.”

In five years … “I look around to survey the fields of grassland and weathering shelters surrounding me. While I’d enjoyed the blessings of our first-world country for so long, I’d finally reached the age to live my calling to serve as a missionary neurologist. It won’t be a life of pleasure. But to provide medical and spiritual aid to these unreached people groups is beyond rewarding, and in this life full of distractions, perhaps here is where I can focus on what truly matters.”