Dr. Hill and students
Wofford College senior receives student of the year honors

Wofford College senior studying to be a genetics counselor has been named the college student of the year by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

Natasha Rudy, of Greenwood, was named the J. Lacy McLean Independent College Student of the Year. She was selected from a pool of students from across the state and will be recognized at a luncheon Oct. 1 at Anderson University, during the fall meeting of SCICU.

The nonprofit organization represents 20 private schools in South Carolina, including Wofford, Converse College, Furman University, Limestone College and Spartanburg Methodist College.

Rudy, who also receives a $2,000 scholarship, was previously recognized by SCICU last year, when she was named the recipient of the Sterling L. Smith Scholarship.

According to Wofford, Rudy is a double major in biology and mathematics inspired after a high school field trip to the Greenwood Genetics Center. After graduation, she hopes to work to support families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects.

"What draws me toward the profession is knowing that such small changes at the genetic level can impact a family's life in such a large way," Rudy said. "These changes are not necessarily caused by parents; they can happen by chance. I want to be the person who is there to help educate families about certain conditions and to connect them to other organizations that can provide support."

During the summer, Rudy interned with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Syntheses, according to the statement. She also tutors students in genetics and calculus, serves as a Wofford ambassador and was selected as a member of the leadership team of Wofford's orientation staff. Rudy also is an active part of Wofford's Math Academy, a student-run outreach program that mentors fourth- and fifth-grade students.

"I have learned the importance of reaching out to others, whether they are peers, incoming students or individuals outside of campus," she said. "The lessons I have learned through helping others have altered my perspective so that I see not only the benefits for the other person, but also the chance to grow, learn and succeed when I put myself out of my comfort zone or take the opportunity to help someone else."

In addition to all the extracurricular activities, Wofford said Rudy has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her collegiate career and plans to seek a master's degree in genetics counseling.

"At this moment, I'm leaning toward being a clinical genetics counselor. This means I will be able to meet with patients and answer their questions about the origin of a genetic condition, inform them about testing options and connect them with support groups," she said. "I will be able to be the person who can soothe someone who is struggling to understand and cope with the implications of a genetic disease or disorder or a birth defect by providing them with answers and a network of support."

Rudy credits Wofford with some of her collegiate success, including her internship.

"I honestly believe that the opportunities Wofford offers made me a strong competitor for the position, and the skills that I have learned here allowed me to handle the work that my mentor expected," she said. "Having that experience this summer showed me that I will be capable of successfully handling graduate-level workloads."

By Drew Brooks
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013