Humans of UK: Winter graduate Hollie Clifton looks ahead to life after college


Maria Rauh

Hollie Clifton, a December graduate, poses for a portrait on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, at Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Kentucky Kernel

Olivia Walton, Reporter

For many seniors, December symbolizes the beginning of the final leg of their time at the University of Kentucky, but for some, the month marks the end of their undergraduate journey.

Senior neuroscience major Hollie Clifton is one of the students who will walk across the stage and receive a diploma at the December commencement ceremony at Rupp Arena.

“I’m so excited because I feel like I’ve just given 110 percent every single semester. There is not any easy semester of the pre-med curriculum, and every semester has brought a new challenge,” Clifton said. “I’m viewing it as more of a reward instead of thinking, ‘This is sad.’”

After graduation, Clifton will spend a semester commuting between her apartment in Lexington and her hometown of Corbin, Kentucky, where she works as an emergency room technician. She will start at the UK College of Medicine in July.

During her time as an undergraduate, Clifton has been a part of the UK Dance Ensemble for three years, and she just finished up her time on the Family Relations Committee for DanceBlue. She is a member of Alpha Phi sorority, Phi Delta Epsilon fraternity and Neurocats as well.

She credits her time in Phi Delta Epsilon as a point of encouragement while on the pre-med track.

“I joined Phi Delta Epsilon sophomore year and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. The community of PhiDE — everyone is super ambitious and super invested in medicine,” she said.

After the next four years of medical school and three years of pediatric residency, Clifton plans on practicing in a rural community in her home state.

“I really want to be able to serve Kentucky later on as a doctor,” she said. “I’ll be curious to see where I end up and what I end up doing.”

Staying in Kentucky is very important to Clifton, and it is a decision she made even after traveling to 20 countries and volunteering abroad in Ecuador twice through the Shoulders to Shoulders Global Brigades program. These opportunities, she said, have given her a new perspective on medicine and education.

“It was interesting to see the difference between rural Kentcuky and rural Ecuador. It’s honestly similar; they have the need there for the same reasons. They’re experiencing the same problems— lack of resources, lack of education,” she said. “It’s crazy that you can go that many miles away and see the same problems as your hometown.”

Just because Clifton plans on pursuing her career in Kentucky does not mean she expects her desire to travel to dwindle.

“Even though I do want to stay in rural Kentucky and be a pediatrician, I think I’ll always want to do those abroad service trips,” Clifton said.