by Abby Shields and Casey Jackson
Schoolwork can get overwhelming for college students, and they need an outlet for fun. For brothers Terren and Skylar Trott, a combination of medical school and research opportunities led them to establish their own extracurricular activity on campus — water polo.
Terren, 26, is a fourth-year medical student at UK, with an interest in pursuing emergency medicine. He completed his bachelor's degree in biological sciences at the University of California at Davis, with a minor in studio art.
"I first was interested in pursuing a doctorate and worked in research labs in undergrad. However, I realized I'd rather be in a field that works with people. Medicine is a good balance of science, research and personally helping people," Terren said.
Though he also enjoys snowboarding, spear fishing and riding mechanical bulls, Terren started the water polo team, which plays as a club sport at UK, because he needed something to do outside of medical school. He made the team open to both men and women. His efforts to bring water polo to UK were spurred by his love of the sport while playing throughout high school and during his undergraduate career. He was also seeking to make water polo a more well-known sport.
"It was cool to start something that doesn't have much recognition in Kentucky," he said.
Terren's younger brother Skylar, 19, also plays water polo and is a junior biology major at UK. He is active in research with two of his professors. One area of research he is currently exploring with Nicholas McLetchie of the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology is plant ecology — focusing on liverwort, a type of moss. He has done this research for the past two semesters and works on it about nine hours a week. Skylar also works about six hours a week helping Diane Snow of the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center and the UK Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, researching how weightless environments affect human health.
"I decided I wanted to do research my freshman year here at UK. I emailed and talked to a bunch of professors in the biology department to see what type of research they were doing," Skylar said.
The brothers moved to Kentucky eight years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Both are working toward becoming doctors, a choice that Skylar says was influenced by their older brother, Orion, who passed away of brain cancer eight years ago at age 21.
"I think that this is what has made me want to help sick people," Skylar said of his brother.
"I also went to Tanzania this past summer for five weeks, where I had the privilege of meeting a doctor there who opened a private medical practice that provides free medical care to people in the impoverished part of the city. That really opened my eyes to the good you can do with a medical degree," said Skylar.
With Terren away from water polo to pursue his medical interests, Skylar has picked up where his brother left off leading the team. Skylar also works at Kentucky Educational Television as Latin tutor for high school students taking online courses. In addition, he enjoys exercising, hiking, and playing the guitar and ukulele. His next goal is to learn how to play the banjo.
In the future, Skylar plans to follow in Terren's footsteps and go to medical school.
"I don't have a specific school in mind yet because I still have to focus on getting a good score on the MCAT. I'm not sure what type of medicine I would be interested in, that's something I am sure I will find out in medical school," said Skylar.
While Terren and Skylar share a passion for water polo, it was not an easy feat to bring the sport to UK. Terren said the most difficult part about starting the team was keeping the number of players up because he had no base from which to start, and recruitment was challenging. The brothers do have high hopes for the team in the future.
"I'm hoping that as the club grows that it will stay open to everyone interested and also become a decent competitive traveling team," Terren said.