Teaching, training and teeing off

Professor builds strength in the gym to improve performance on the green
Dr. Kerry swings a golf club

On campus, Julie Kerry, PhD, is the EVMS Foundation Distinguished Professor in Biomedical Sciences and Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology. Off campus, Dr. Kerry is a golfer who recently changed her lifestyle in pursuit of a better golf game. She’s been working with a personal trainer and has lost 60 pounds.

What sparked your interest in golf?

When I was in my early 20s, I came home from college, and my dad said, “We’re going out to a par-3 course!” We had never played golf before. I hit one shot at that time that was a perfect golf shot. I always thought I would like to be able to play golf, but I was busy with graduate school and a career.

I was around 40 when I went to visit my sister at St. Andrews University in Scotland, and we had a chance to walk around the course. I said to her, “I’ve always wanted to learn to play golf.” My sister doesn’t drive, so she said, “Let’s make a deal: You learn how to play golf, and I’ll learn how to drive.” I went home, started taking lessons and was instantly hooked. To this day, my sister still hasn’t learned to drive.

What do you enjoy most about golf?

In order to play golf well, you have to clear your mind. In the work I do, it’s rare that I have the opportunity to have my mind be blank, so I kind of get into a Zen state when I’m playing really well.

Where has golf taken you?

I’ve played in Portugal, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Hawaii. I have a goal of playing in every state in the U.S., and I’ve got about 25 down, so I’m halfway there.

Is there a golfer who inspires you?

That very first time I picked up a club, I closed my eyes and said, “What would Greg Norman do?” I tried to imagine that as I was hitting the ball, so I think he was my first inspiration. My first golf lessons were with Michelle Holmes. She was also an inspiration. She’s local and runs a golf school for kids, and her kids do amazingly well.

How has exercising helped your golf?

Toward the end of the season last year, I hit my longest drive ever — 275 yards — so I was super excited about that. Usually I average around 200 yards. It’s nice to see I get more distance and more consistency, and it’s all definitely due to being fitter and stronger.

What are you most passionate about in your work at EVMS?

My work with students. I run one of the courses for MD students. I also run a program for students who need a little extra help to be successful, and I find that very satisfying. I see my role as an educator as helping students achieve their dreams. That keeps me coming back day after day.