Words by Elizabeth Gillott | Images by Al Blanton
Lillian Ergle has always considered herself a busy body. From playing softball and cheering at Jasper High School to running cross-country and continuing softball in college, she enjoys the variety that participation in multiple sports brings.
But when it comes to her education, Lillian has always had one goal in her sights: the medical field.
“A lot of my family members were sick when I was growing up and taking care of them inspired me to pursue medicine professionally,” Lillian says.
Lillian is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree in biology at Mississippi University for Women (MUW) and is set to graduate on May 5. She plans on starting medical school in the fall.
But Lillian’s ambitions do not end here.
“After med school, I plan on being a physician for the Air Force,” she says.
At MUW, Lillian is a part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, better known as ROTC. She commutes to the nearby Mississippi State University weekly for classes relating to the Air Force ROTC program.
She originally planned on jumping into the Air Force straight out of high school, but when she received a full-ride scholarship to MUW, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Once she found out about the university’s program, she knew that this was the path that she was meant to take.
“Because of this program, I was able to see how I’d like the Air Force and the team environment that comes with the Air Force. I absolutely loved it,” Lillian explains.
During this time, COVID-19 was at its peak, making the experience more tedious than usual. She stuck with it, and the experience has proved fruitful. Lillian has received a scholarship through the Health Professions Scholarship Program that funds all her medical school expenses.
Lillian will soon be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant by the Air Force and will transfer from the reserves to active duty. “I get to jump into the Air Force instead of being in a subsection of it,” she says.
Outside of her schooling, Lillian devotes even more of her time to her studies. In her spare time, she is passionate about breast cancer research. “What we’re working on is trying to develop a path to an effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer,” Lillian says.
She emphasized that the research team is in the early stages and the importance of taking it one step at a time. “Every baby step means a lot on the research side to develop a better drug to treat breast cancer,” she adds.
Ergle is set to receive her Air Force commission on May 19. WL