Pre-med P-100 on mission to aid low-income families

At 20 years old, University of Miami junior Alison Moody indulges in the simple pleasures of college life in Miami – when she has the time, that is.

“Free time? That’s a funny joke,” Moody said with a laugh. “I really don’t anticipate any this semester. But I love going to the beach.”

A native of Ellicott City, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, Moody was accepted into UM’s accelerated physical therapy program, but she soon opted for the pre-med route. Now a double major in neuroscience and psychology, Moody is also a member of the P-100, Honors Students Association and Alpha Lambda Delta honors society. She will also be starting research under psychology professor Annette La Greca in late February.

“I’m very excited about learning in a professional environment,” Moody said. “It’s an outside-of-the-classroom experience.”

But that won’t be her only chance to get out of the school setting this semester. During her freshman year, Moody began working with families in the low-income neighborhood of West Coconut Grove through an Urban Ministry program. Moody “adopts” these families and helps them learn to be independent and take care of themselves. She is currently working with one family that has 15 children.

“It was easy for me to connect [with them] because I don’t have a threatening appearance. But then again it’s harder to earn their respect,” Moody said, noting that some times women have a harder time gaining respect.

Although she knows that all her efforts don’t carry over at all times, Moody is happy to see the payoff when she is around the families.

While juggling everything else, Moody is also studying for the MCAT, which she plans to take in June. She has looked into working on the medical end at a leper colony in Africa over the summer. Moody hopes all this will culminate in her acceptance into medical school, where she would like to concentrate on medicine in infectious diseases to use in urban America as well as overseas.

“I’d love to come to UM for med school, if that door opens,” she said. “I don’t plan to choose my med school – I just hope one chooses me.”

Megan Ondrizek may be contacted at