During former US Marine Aaron Evans’ second tour of duty in Iraq he was part of the humanitarian effort to help rebuild the city of Rutbah, Iraq.  He helped provide security and logistical assistance for people living in “really bad conditions,” and he became frustrated when civilians needed medical help.   Their one hospital was being rebuilt and only one small clinic remained.

“Several people came to us for help, and we could not immediately provide it.  There were no supplies, and I did not have the training.  I thought about it a lot,” Evans said.  “It was there that I felt a calling to become a physician.”

Following his honorable discharge, Evans spent five semesters at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, finishing his undergraduate chemistry degree in May 2010.  The 28-year Evans is one of seven UTC chemistry majors beginning medical school this fall.  Evans is studying at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Most of the students I knew who graduated with me in May made straight A’s in all our courses,” Evans said.  “Now, we will be attending medical school where all the students have made excellent grades.  We heard a lot of statistics during medical school orientation, and the one that stuck with me is how few people make A’s in medical school,” Evans said.

In the UTC Department of Chemistry, Dr. Greg Grant served as a mentor for Evans and Dr. Tom Rybolt directed Evans’ research project.  “I can’t say enough about the UTC professors—they are great, and I am happy that I chose to earn a chemistry degree.  Everybody was really supportive and taught to a remarkable standard of excellence,” Evans said.

Though it will be ten years before Evans can be a practicing physician, he’s thinking ahead.

“I plan to take time every year to visit third world countries and practice medicine where people really need and appreciate receiving care,” Evans said.

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