Jessica Kilpatrick chose to attend Georgia Tech because she knew that “it would prepare me for my future and get me to the next step.” Now graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in health and medical sciences from the Institute, with plans to attend the Emory University Physician Assistant Program in the fall, Kilpatrick says she feels confident that her time at Georgia Tech has prepared her for the next phase of her life.
Kilpatrick shares that on campus as an undergrad, she found a healthy balance between academics, career preparation, and social time. She kept focus on her classes — while making time to play volleyball and spend time with her friends, boyfriend, and nieces.
She also worked as a student assistant trainer and currently serves in the coveted role as head student athletic trainer for Georgia Tech Football, which she notes as her favorite activity so far at Georgia Tech. “Being able to work with a team I grew up cheering for has been surreal, and I am sad that my Saturdays on Grant Field have come to a close.”
As she prepares for the semesters and new adventures ahead, Kilpatrick plans to celebrate her graduation by attending this spring’s Commencement ceremony with her family. “I am most looking forward to getting my degree and completing one of the hardest things I have ever done,” she adds.
Kilpatrick recently joined us virtually for a Q&A on her time as a student and what’s next:
So, how have your initial expectations of Georgia Tech compared to your actual experience?
Before coming to Georgia Tech, I was worried about the rigor and difficulty of classes. I thought that there would not be much time to do things that I enjoy, but I was wrong. I found that, to do well and maintain my mental health, I had to go out and enjoy things. It has been those moments with friends that have really grounded me, and kept me at a level needed to succeed at Georgia Tech.
What is the most important thing you've learned at Georgia Tech?
The most important thing I have learned while at Georgia Tech is that academics are not everything. It is important to join clubs, stay active, and do things you enjoy. During my first year, I found a group of friends who loved to play volleyball, so twice a week we would go out and play.
This not only would give me a break from my work, but it would also lower my stress and allow me to be more attentive once I started studying again. It is important to find people who share similar interests as you and help you relax, but also encourage you to focus on school when needed.
What is your proudest achievement at Georgia Tech?
My job with the football team is my proudest achievement. In the spring of my first year, I started working as a student athletic trainer with the team. Since then, I have transitioned into the role of head student (athletic trainer), obtained over 2,000 hours of experience, and earned over $20,000 in scholarships.
While working alongside some talented athletes has been amazing, I am even more blessed for the training I have received from the athletic training staff, and the connections I have made that will further advance my medical career.
Which professors or class made a big impact on you?
Dr. Meghan Babcock has by far been my most influential professor, and she has served as my academic advisor for the past two years. Every time I stepped into her classroom or office, or even saw her around campus, she spoke to me by name and asked how things were going. For a professor to care that much for her students was amazing, and it was comforting to know that I could go to her if I ever needed help. Because of her attentiveness and care, she will always be someone I remember.
As far as classes go, Chemistry 1212 had the biggest impact on me. Throughout high school, I made all A’s, but I knew that at Georgia Tech, that was likely going to end, and I was prepared for it. During the fall of my second year, Chem 1212 broke my perfect record. And the grade? 89. Although I knew my perfect record would eventually end, it was still a humbling experience and again proved to me that academics are not everything. You do not have to be perfect to be successful.
What is your most vivid memory at Georgia Tech?
During my first semester, I ended up with pneumonia and was having some bad reactions. But it was a hell week, and I would not let little ole pneumonia stop me. Well, it ended up stopping me anyways. I was in a study session for a calculus test that was coming up, and my throat was swelling up on me. I had to rush out of the study session, walk 20 minutes to my dorm, and finally get to the hospital.
While it was happening, I could not help but see the humor in the situation. I did not listen to my body telling me it needed to rest, so it made the decision for me. At this point I was not fully sold on the idea that "school isn’t everything," but that experience definitely pushed me to start realizing that my health is important too.
What is one piece of advice would you offer a current student?
Don't let academics get in the way of forming friendships. There is definitely a balance, and schoolwork should not be neglected — but you will regret not spending time with your friends when given the chance. Go to sporting events, go to SCPC (Student Center Programs Council) events, take advantage of your time on campus, because those are the memories you will keep.
Where are you headed after graduation?
I am very excited to say that I will be heading to Emory University to join their Physician Assistant Program. My job with the Georgia Tech Football team, balance of life and school, and help from professors like Dr. Babcock all helped me get to this point — and I definitely owe Georgia Tech big time for how it has set me up for success.