Carra Lyons '18

Name:  Carra Lyons ‘18
Residence:  Columbia, South Carolina
Degree:  Bachelor of Science, Chemistry          
Occupation:  Medical Student, Medical Assistant

More than a decade ago, Carra Lyons '18 had a life that looked very different than it does today.

She had to abruptly stop her K-12 education at the age of 12 for family and financial reasons. She obtained her GED at 17, started at York Technical College at 21 and then transferred to Winthrop, where she would graduate from the honors program.

Now, she is a medical student at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. She has a new outlook on life and is motivated by the hurdles that once consumed everything.  

“My motivation comes from my childhood view of who I was. I did not believe I could be or do anything. I did not see a future at all. I faced life thinking my fate was decided and I had no control over who or what I was,” Lyons said. “I have realized since then, I can do more than I ever thought was possible. That drives me to work harder than I thought I could and do more than is humanly sane sometimes. I want to do as much as I possibly can with the life I have been given.”

Winthrop was one of the first places that gave her hope and inspired her to seek a better life for herself. As a transfer student, she juggled 18-21 credits every semester as a chemistry major in the honors program. The Chester, South Carolina, native said she became intrigued by the culture of learning on campus and encountered professors that would later become dear friends. 

“Winthrop changed me. I am not the same since I attended there. I was well trained to begin medical school. The education I gained was invaluable,” Lyons said. “However, the most impactful was my experience there and the professors that taught me and spent time to educate and train me. I became a much better person after my experience there.”

Lyons said Associate Professor of Chemistry Nicholas Grossoehme gave her genuine support, endless advice and strong mentorship.

“He taught me to be stronger and braver than I ever thought I could be,” she said. “Education is only one part of the Winthrop experience. If you let them, these professors will make you into a better person than you knew you could be,” she added.

She used that courage to apply to medical school after working a year in the medical field to gain experience. She was accepted in the first round. 

Now, her days start as early as 3 a.m. and sometimes end as late as 1 a.m. but she still makes time to reflect on overcoming her childhood and envisioning the future. Lyons said undergrad became a pivotal point in her life; she hopes current students will take advantage of their college years to truly discover who they are.

“Gain the most you can out of it and realize that while four years seems like forever right now, this is one of your opportunities in life to really change who you are into something so much more productive and experienced,” Lyons said. “This is your time to shine.”

Lyons, who is studying to become an interventional cardiologist, recently hosted prospective med students from Winthrop during USC School of Medicine's A Day in the Life Experience program.