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South Carolina Honors College

Jana Liese

Ask me about... biochemistry, research, the Washington Semester Program, and getting involved on campus!

I’m a junior from Columbia, South Carolina. Both my parents work at USC, so I grew up on campus and am a die-hard Gamecock fan. I’m studying biochemistry and plan to pursue a joint MD/Ph.D. in microbiology and conduct infectious disease research. I’m involved in entirely too many extracurricular activities but they all center around my love for service and mentorship.


Something that makes me laugh: Kate McKinnon on SNL. Her impersonations are on point and her comedic timing is amazing.

Songs I’ve completely memorized: The entire Hamilton soundtrack.

Something I will never do: Turn down a slice of cheesecake. I cannot live without cheesecake, so if you offer me a piece, I will always eat it.

My motto in life: Everything will be okay. I tend to overreact to small setbacks, so I always tell myself that everything will work out in the end.

Currently reading: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. The book is split into six stories, each loosely connected to the protagonist, Holly Sykes, whose younger brother mysteriously disappeared when she was a child. The book has a fantastical and science-fiction element to it, describing an “invisible war” between two different magical factions. It’s one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, but it is very suspenseful and impossible to put down.

Favorite movie: I love any movie with Sandra Bullock. So, I could watch The Heat, Miss Congeniality, or The Proposal on repeat for days.

My strength: My determination and work ethic.

My weakness: I tend to procrastinate on assignments, which can cause some high-stress situations later. Learn from my mistakes, and don’t wait until the last minute to do your work.

My dream job: Doing research to find treatments or cures for highly infectious diseases. I read The Hot Zone a few years ago, and was inspired by Dr. Nancy Jaax’s work with the Ebola virus. I started doing some on my own research and have been completely fascinated by the topic ever since then.

My advice for prospective students: Remember that college is about more than academics. Yes, you are going to college to get an education, but there are so many other things to take advantage of. You want to make sure that you will enjoy yourself during those four years.

My advice for current students: Be outgoing. Introduce yourself to your professors; ask an advisor about beyond the classroom opportunities; say hi to the person sitting next to you in class. Opportunities won’t be handed to you in college, but if you are outgoing and ask for them, people will be happy to help.

My favorite thing about the Honors College: The supportive community. Everyone in the Honors College wants you to succeed and will do everything they can to help you on the way. Even though there are so many high-achieving students here, we all support each other.

My reason for choosing the SCHC: The unique opportunities offered by the Honors College and close-knit community. I was looking for a big school that had lots of opportunities for research and internships, but also a community where the students supported and cheered for each other. I found both of those things at the SCHC.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.