Dr. Waldon Garriss III - 2011 A Award Recipient
Dr. George Waldon Garriss, III, class of 1981, received the A Award for his commitment to the craft of teaching and excellence in the fields of science, ministry and medicine.
Garriss came to Asbury from Georgia as a transfer student seeking an educational environment that would positively shape his career and character. He knew he wanted to teach; deciding on a subject to teach, however, was more difficult. His twin passions were music and science. Anticipating that biology would be more difficult to accommodate as a hobby, he chose biology and education for his majors and graduated in 1981.
Garriss’ educational journey was just beginning, however. After a few years of teaching high-school science in his home state, he returned to Kentucky to pursue a master’s degree in physiology and biophysics at the University of Kentucky. Volunteering to lead a college group’s weekly Bible study as a balance to his many hours in the lab led to a position as youth minister and director of Christian education at Brookhaven Methodist Church in Brookhaven, Miss.
While in Brookhaven, a conversation with a local hospital administrator led to a new understanding of how his skills could help even more people. Realizing that medicine could tie the threads of science, ministry, education and service into one united vocation, he entered medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, did his residency in medicine and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and completed a general medicine fellowship at the University of Virginia, where he also completed a master’s in health evaluation sciences and epidemiology.
Garriss joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine in 1999 and served as the associate chair for ambulatory education and associate program director for both the Internal Medicine and Medicine-Pediatrics residency programs. Ever the committed teacher, he achieved a Master Clinical Teacher designation at Vanderbilt and made it his mission to share information and encouragement with students, patients, staff members and faculty alike.
In 2011, Garriss and his wife, Renee, returned to Georgia to establish a private medical practice and be more available to care for family members as time goes by. Garriss looks forward to connecting with medical schools in the state to advocate for continued study and research in the overlapping fields of medicine and pediatrics.