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University Honors Program Success Story

Alumni Success Story

Student Wins Prestigious Premedical Award

By Jessica Tabak

Grenye O'Malley

Grenye O'Malley won the American University Hassa S. Shanker Premedical Achievement Prize at the annual Prehealth Awards and Recognition Banquet this April. This cash prize of $2,000 is awarded each year to the most outstanding undergraduate premedical student intending to attend a health professional school. Selection of the winner is based on academic achievements, leadership qualities, and contributions to society or the health professions.  

O'Malley received a BS in biology from AU this May, with a cumulative GPA of 3.95 and a GPA of 4.0 in her science courses. Her Honors Capstone project examined neurotransmitter distribution in the retinas of hyperglycemic zebrafish. Conducted in conjunction with biology professor Victoria Connaughton, this research aims to provide insight into the way in which diabetes causes blindness in humans.  

In addition to her research projects, O'Malley was the vice-president and community service coordinator for Eco-Sense, an organization that promotes sustainability on campus. She also served as a volunteer program intern at My Sister's Place, where she participated in service projects and helped raise more than $10,000 in donations for the shelter.  

Looking back, O'Malley recalls two experiences that strongly influenced her decision to enroll in the premedical program. The first was two weeks spent volunteering at a children's clinic in Lima, Peru, the summer before she started at AU. The second was her experience as a freshman biology student at AU. "I didn't really like my science classes in high school," she says, "because I didn't always have the best teachers. But I loved my Biology I and II classes at AU."  

O'Malley will begin her first year at NYU's School of Medicine this fall.