Senior biology major Aimee Denham is a small-town girl at heart and hopes to return to those roots once she finishes medical school.
A native of Bandera near San Antonio, Denham will start medical school this fall at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center after graduating through ASU’s Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP). JAMP was created by the Texas Legislature in 2003 to support highly qualified, economically disadvantaged students pursue a medical education. It includes scholarships, mentoring and med school preparation assistance, summer internships and guaranteed admission to a Texas medical school for students who complete the criteria.
In addition to JAMP, Denham is also an active member of the ASU Honors Program. In 2012, she completed a National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Partners in the Park program at Sequoia National Park in California, and in 2014 was chosen to represent ASU at the 55th Air Force Academy Assembly in Colorado. She has also made poster, paper and panel presentations on several research projects at NCHC and Great Plains Honors Council annual conferences.
On campus, Denham has worked as an Honors Program emissary and mentor, and has served as a voting member of the Galilee Community Development Board and Concho Valley Rape Crisis Center board through the Honors Program’s Community Engagement Initiative. In 2014, she won the Honors Program Director’s Award as the top junior in the program.
Additionally, Denham is vice president of the Honors Student Association and is a member of the Tri-Beta national biology honor society, the Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, and Who’s Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges. She has also been honored as a Wonderful Woman of ASU.
Upon completing medical school, Denham has tentative plans to specialize in either pediatrics or family practice in a small town or other medically underserved area.
Why did you choose to attend ASU?
Initially I was recruited to ASU for track and field. I visited several other schools, but ASU gave me a pretty good athletic scholarship and I pole vaulted for a year and a half here. I also got accepted into the Honors Program, and that was a huge draw for me. It just seemed like a really amazing program that encourages students to go above and beyond in their college experience and really get involved on campus and in the community. In the Biology Department, I also learned about the pre-health professions program and its outstanding acceptance rate to medical schools. The campus also really felt like home.
What professor made the biggest difference in your education?
I would have to say Dr. Loren Ammerman. She has been my research advisor for a year and a half, I’ve taken several courses with her, and she is so knowledgeable. It’s amazing how much she knows about bats and her research. We’ve been working on a research project with bats, and she has taken me out to Big Bend National Park, where I got to set up my first net to catch bats and got to hold a bat for the first time. It’s been amazing working with her.
What is your favorite hangout on campus?
I definitely love the Honors Lounge. There are lots of computers up there and nice couches to take a nap on between classes or study all night if you need to. There is always food up there, too. But most importantly, almost all my friends are in the Honors Program and we’ve grown to be a close family.
What has been your most memorable experience as a student?
I really loved going to all the conferences with our Honors group. We got to travel across the U.S. and go to some amazing cities. Another would be going to Big Bend National Park and catching my first bat. That was an unreal experience that I can’t really put into words. The most recent thing that has made me really appreciate my time at ASU was getting nominated for the Presidential Award by the Biology Department. That really gave me a special feeling about my time at ASU and all I’ve done here.
What is your favorite thing about being an ASU student?
The people are what make ASU so wonderful. The students are friendly, outgoing and will do anything for you. Everyone I’ve met here has been really friendly. Also, it’s crazy how the professors are willing to go out on a limb to help you with whatever you need. They really want to make sure that you not only get a great education, but that you get involved on campus and be an all-around student because you’re not just here to get a degree, you’re here for an experience.
Was there anything about ASU that surprised you when you became a student?
One is how competitive the students are here. Everyone may think ASU is just a small school that can’t compete with the bigger universities—but we have students who have won huge national awards and are doing amazing undergraduate research. We also have faculty with great credentials teaching our students. I think I’ve learned more at ASU than my friends that go to bigger schools. Another surprise was the city of San Angelo. I came from a really small town, and I think San Angelo is huge. It has so many fun things to do. A lot of people think that is funny, but I’ve had a great time here.
What would you say to prospective students considering ASU?
ASU is an amazing university with really friendly students and great faculty to work with. You have really small class sizes, so your professors really get to know you. Whatever career choice you have, ASU has a major for you. You’re not just a number here, you’re a face, and you have plenty of opportunities to get involved on campus and in the community.