"When I was younger, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon," said O.J. Neeley. "From a very young age you hear the phrase 'it can't be that difficult. It's not brain surgery' and so I wanted to do something like that."
The "if it's difficult, it's for me" mindset is an apt description of Neeley, a business honors, corporate finance, Plan II and pre-med student who was nominated for the prestigious Rhodes and Marshall scholarships in 2009.
Neeley has spent the past five years balancing three majors and a pre-med concentration, as well as completed extensive coursework in Spanish, traveled abroad, held internships and leadership positions in student organizations and done several research projects both on and off campus.
It's no doubt a hectic work load, but Neeley says the frenzied pace is what motivates him.
"It's difficult in the sense that it involves a lot of different skills, but at the same time it keeps you fresh because you don't take five classes in the same subject," Neeley said. "And there's time management that goes into it, but at the same time I don't think it's quite as daunting as many people might think."
Neeley tapped into his medical interests when he spent a summer at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio studying and researching novel approaches to lessen the side effects of pharmaceutical treatments for Parkinson's disease.
"I was assigned to work with a doctor from Italy named Andrea Giuffrida, and I really loved the lab because his colleagues were from Germany, Italy, Poland and India, so it was an extremely global environment," Neeley said. "It was a really good experience, but it also taught me that I don't think I want to do scientific academia at this point."
After graduation, Neeley is taking a year off to travel, spending some time in India working in a hospital and learning Hindi. He also wants to teach fly fishing in Colorado before beginning an M.D./M.B.A. program that he can use to work in public health or health care policy.
Read the complete story in the McCombs Today blog.