SC State Graduate First to Receive Medical Physics Degree

Friday, December 12, 2008

Koress WrightSC State graduate, Koressa Williams, will be the first to receive a Bachelor of Science in Physics with an option in Medical Physics during the Fall Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008 at 9 a.m. in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center (SHM).

The keynote address will be given by Dr. George E. Cooper, 10th President of SC State.

Medial Physics is a multi-disciplinary field that applies the principles of Physics to diagnose and treat illnesses through use of radiation and nuclear medicine, especially cancer. The Medical Physics option was instituted at the University in the fall of 2005 to respond to both the low enrollment in the Physics major, and for the under-representation of African-Americans and other minorities in the Medical Physics profession. The Physics curriculum at SC State was modified to include 18 semester hours of Medical Physics courses. Through this option, SC State is the first institution in South Carolina to offer this undergraduate degree option.

The 22-year-old native of Patterson, N.J., entered the Medical Physics option during its development in 2005.

“When I first entered in the Program it didn’t feel like it was a reality,” said Williams. “Currently there are approximately 20 Physics majors and we are all like a small family so I didn’t feel as alone as I did in the beginning,” she added.

During the fall semester, students visited medical radiation diagnosing and treatment centers which allowed them to learn about the operation of state-of-the art equipment used for treatment purposes. Students also interacted with medical professionals from various hospitals and universities throughout the country during the Medical Physics Speakers’ Forum, which is held weekly during the spring and fall semesters.

“The Medical Physics option is well structured and I feel that I mostly benefited from the Speakers’ Forum, which provided a lot of information and networking opportunities. Through that initiative I gained two internships with well known medical institutions,” said Williams.

In addition to completing two internships at SC State, Williams interned at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, M.I under the direction of Dr. Stephen Brown, Radiation Oncology Researcher and The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, S.C. under the direction of Dr. Donald Frey, Radiology professor.

“We’re very proud of Koressa and her accomplishments,” said Dr. Donald Walter, Physics program coordinator at SC State. “She is the first of many of our students who will leave this program prepared for graduate school or a job within the medical profession,” added Walter.
After graduation, Williams plans to attend a college or university to pursue her master’s degree and then continue to earn her doctorate degree in Medical Physics.

“As technology increases there are many things taking place in our environment that is worth exploring, such as the reasons why people develop massive brain tumors and the like. I think these things are worth investigating and I would like to stay in this field to find ways to help others,” said Williams.
As she prepares for graduation, Williams reflects on her time spent at the University.

“I’m going to miss everyone at SC State but I’m excited about continuing my studies in this field. It’s definitely a great option to pursue.”

For more information about the Medical Physics option at SC State contact, Dr. Shadia El-Teleaty, assistant professor of Physics at 803-536-8510 or