Most Springhillians know senior Caroline Sagrera for her outstanding achievements on the softball mound. The Clinton, La. native holds numerous school records for pitching for the Lady Badgers. But what people don’t know is that she is just as competitive and accomplished in the classroom as well. She recently completed a Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of CincinnatiChildren’s Hospital. As a research assistant in the nephrology lab, she worked to understand the effect and mechanisms of excess protein in the urine, proteinuria, on kidney function and disease. They determined that proteinuria causes expedited kidney failure through increased kidney cell death. Her specific project worked to pinpoint different proteins that could possibly slow and or prevent this detrimental cell death in order to hinder and or possibly reverse kidney damage.
The pre-health major and biochemistry minor was attracted to Spring Hill both for its stellar pre- med program and for the opportunity to play softball. She has distinguished herself in both. She was honored last spring as the athlete with this highest GPA. While staying busy on the field, she had a pre- med internship at the Mobile infirmary shadowing professionals in OBGYN, pain management, and ER.
Last January, she visited Lima, Peru as part of a volunteer medical assistance group setting up mobile health clinics and free health care in impoverished areas of the country. “This solo journey gave me an experience of a lifetime with some truly amazing people, as well as a new perspective on the hardships those living in third-world countries face,” she said.
Caroline has also volunteered at USA Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and Camp Sunshine and Grace Health Rehab Center Nursing Home in Louisiana.
Last summer, she was a student at Spring Hill’s Italy Center. Her life there was very different from her rural community outside Baton Rouge. “The center gave me the opportunity to become fully immersed in the Italian culture as well as the Balkan culture during our social justice trip to Croatia and Bosnia. Being immersed in a culture that is so different from our own has a way of making one rethink their life priorities and ultimate goals. Through talking with the survivors of the Balkan war, I became acutely aware of the gifts given to me in my life,” she explained.
Caroline has many gifts. Her athletic achievements include: two time NAIA Team All-America member, SSAC West Division Pitcher of the Year, 2013 SSAC Pitcher of the Year and a no. 1 ranking in the NAIA in Wins (38) innings pitched (339.0) and batters struck out (435).
It is however, the influence of professors that are the gifts that will remain with her for a lifetime. “My professors in the biology department Dr. David Dean and Dr. Don Culberson have especially impacted me in my time here at Spring Hill College. They have been a constant source of knowledge, encouragement and inspiration since my freshmen year,” she said.
“One day I will be a physician, although I have no idea what kind right now….To me, becoming a physician is more than good test scores or an aptitude for science, although that is certainly a critical aspect,” she added. “To be the best physician one can be, one must have a genuine interest, concern and passion for others. Relief or distraction from pain comes in the form of a smile, a word of encouragement, a hug. I remind myself every day that I can make a difference. This is the career that I want to pursue to make that difference happen.”
Caroline will be stepping back up in the classroom and on the mound again this year – nurtured in mind, body and spirit from her Spring Hill experiences and the opportunities she has carved for herself on a journey to help others.