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Class of 2017: Senior has right chemistry for tennis and life

Senior Macy Polk is Georgia College's No. 1 women's tennis player, winning 155 games. She also just received the "Elite 15 Award" for having one of the
highest GPAs in the Peach Belt All-Academic conference. 

Honors senior Macy Polk has the perfect interaction of intellect and talent – majoring in chemistry and dominating on the tennis court.

She was one of two student athletes this spring to receive the “Elite 15 Award,” which represents one of the highest GPAs in the Peach Belt All-Academic conference: a 3.89. She is also the No. 1 tennis player for Georgia College.

“Macy is fantastic in every way,” said Wendell Staton, director of athletics. “She is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I cannot say enough good things about her. She is ‘no maintenance’ and literally does everything right.”

Senior chemistry major Macy Polk wants to be an anesthesiologist or pediatric oncologist

Polk was born in China and adopted from an orphanage there  – along with her sister Cristalei Polk, who graduated from Georgia College with a physics degree in December. 

It was in Powder Springs, that Polk and her sister learned to play tennis. They both wanted a college that offered tennis scholarships. Both sisters got into the Honors Program at Georgia College and lived as roommates for 3 ½ years at Bell Hall.

Although she misses her sister, Polk said being separated has helped her become more outgoing.

“Initially, I was very shy,” she said. “I was more closed off to myself. I was definitely quieter.”

“Being here has helped me branch out,” she said, “because I’ve got people on the tennis team, in the Honors Program and the chemistry department. I have different groups of friends I’ve connected well with.”

Polk’s aggressive both on the court and in the classroom. 

She holds the highest position on the six-member women's tennis team and ranks second in doubles. She's won 155 games in college. There are different styles for playing tennis, she said. Some people try to tire opponents, making them run from side to side. Others wear opponents down by returning every ball and lengthening the game.

“It’s both challenging and fun at the same time,” Polk said. “Every player’s different, so it’s like a puzzle trying to figure out what you need to change to win.”

Her first year and every year since, she’s received the Undergraduate Research Scholarship to identify new agents for cancer treatment. Her task was to design and develop new compounds based on a class of natural products called flavonoids. Polk’s group successfully made a new compound that will be tested later for “anticancer activity” by other members of the research group. 

“She has achieved a remarkable academic record, completing a rigorous chemistry degree while at the same time playing competitive tennis," said Dr. Chavonda Mills, chemistry professor and interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"She also found time to engage in undergraduate research and hold leadership positions. Students like Macy are the reason why I chose a career in higher education," Mills said. "It is exceptionally gratifying to know I've contributed in some way, even if very minor, to the growth and success of such students."

After graduation, Polk may take more courses at Mercer University and volunteer at hospitals. She hopes these activities, along with her chemistry degree, will help her stand out when applying to medical school.

At Georgia College, she learned to think critically, analyze and problem solve. The extra research, presentations and projects she did as an Honors student also helped prepare her to be an anesthesiologist or pediatric oncologist someday.

“Macy Polk is a special person and embodies everything we want as a student, college athlete and, more important, as a member of our society,” Staton said. “Her contributions to the medical field and anything she touches will be great. Success awaits her at every stop along the way."

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