Alum William Spivey

Billy graduated from SUA with a concentration in Environmental Studies in 2012.  He is currently studying at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) and enrolled in their “Foundations in Biomedical Science (FBMS)” program. This is a very intense, specialized post-baccalaureate curriculum in which he takes classes with the 1st year medical students taught by the medical school faculty (cardiovascular, immunology, musculoskeletal anatomy, medical biochemistry and microbiology, etc., except for the clinical courses), as well as a professional development course specifically for the FBMS students.
In essence, upon completion of this program with strong academic credentials and a favorable evaluation of professionalism by the staff faculty, he will be part of the BCOM class of 2022 as a medical student.
Since graduating from SUA, it has been Billy’s determination to become a physician, and therefore he continues to do his best to not only realize his career goal but to also demonstrate the value of a Soka Education he received at SUA.

It seems as though environment studies and medicine are very different. However, I think the two disciplines are interrelated, and it is my hope to integrate my environment studies with medicine. Everything in life, from the way I see it, from global warming, social issues, the economy, is to some extent a health issue. Our environment directly influences our health. One branch of medicine that enthuses me is integrative medicine, which incorporates eastern/traditional medicine and western medicine. It is my hope to provide this holistic approach in treating patients while at the same time addressing environmentalism and sustainability. Billy Spivey

What is your best memory as an Environmental Studies concentrator?

I had the tremendous benefit of having Dr. Robert Hamersley as my mentor for my capstone project. As difficult and challenging the project was mentally and physically, it was my fondest memory of my SUA academics. When it came to constructing wells and digging them into the ground at Newport Valley Wetlands (to collect groundwater to study the impact of urban runoff into a freshwater wetland, and to later bring them to the Hamersley laboratory to analyze them), it was exhausting but extremely rewarding. Additionally, I developed a profound appreciation for scientific research, as well as an understanding to possess a seeking spirit for learning in a discipline that is constantly changing and gathering new information. I have tremendous appreciation for Dr. Hamersley and SUA for their contributions to my growth and development as a student.

How did Environmental Studies prepare you for life after SUA?

SUA and environmental sciences laid a foundation for me to explore more deeply into the sciences. However, it was the level of interaction with my professors that contributed to learning after SUA. They taught me the significance of the student-professor relationship, and thanks to my capstone project, I utilized office hours very often. Due to one-on-one interaction with Dr. Hamersley as well as several other faculty, I was able to better understand and appreciate the learning objectives they set out for me. At larger universities, it can be hard for students to have that interaction with the faculty, and at BCOM, each lecture has ~200 students taught by a single faculty. But because SUA really emphasized the importance of a student/professor relationship, I make an effort to engage with my professors at BCOM to better enhance my learning and ultimately my success as a student.

Do you have any advice for current Environmental Studies concentrators?

Study, study, study ! I say this because at the graduate level (at least for medical school), you will be given so much material beyond your imagination most likely. Finding the time to study all this material is challenging, and I continue to find challenges in studying effectively and efficiently. I realize that 24 hours in a day is not much in terms of the amount of time I have to study, so I am constantly cognizant about how much time I have left in day to study before I become tired and go to bed. It is also paramount to take breaks and having fun with friends in between because they are healthy and needed for your brain in moderate amounts, but always remind yourself that our full-time job is studying everyday.

Please also make efforts to engage with your professors. Get to know your advisor, seek help when needed, and never feel intimidated. With consistency and determination to study daily and interact with the SUA faculty, your life after SUA will be tremendously successful especially if you desire to pursue higher education. And, as an aspiring physician, please make the right food choices, exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, and try not to get sick.

Lastly, I want to conclude that to make studying effective, you have to strongly encourage yourself to enjoy it. When you like what you are studying, then I think you can learn so much from it. On the flip side, when you don’t like it, then you can’t learn as much. When I see the positivity in everything I study, then naturally I can become enthusiastic.
This can be a challenge for me at time, but in general, I can make the most out of it. Please enjoy your studies!