For years, Jade Nicely’s family told her that she shared mannerisms and an uncanny resemblance to her late aunt Chrissy. They also shared an interest in medicine.

Chrissy died young, before following her dream of becoming a doctor. As Nicely joins the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus, she will pursue her medical career as a tribute to her aunt.

“I’ve always been interested in science. As a little kid, my parents would get me little chemistry experiments,” Nicely said. “But while I chose medicine for my own reasons, there is also this element of doing this for my family. It’s really special to me.”

Along with her love for scientific discovery, Nicely also loved talking to people. The natural convergence of these two interests was training to become a physician. It’s a career that will allow her to work with patients every day and help improve their health.

Nicely has long been invested in her dream. She shadowed doctors at the pediatrician’s office where her mother works. Then she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. At Wild Health in Lexington, she gained research experience investigating the efficacy of ketamine therapy in mental health treatments. She also spent time as a lab technician at a COVID-19 testing facility.

Now that Nicely is about to start her first semester of medical school, she is excited to get into “the clinical side of things.”

Nicely was drawn to the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus for its small class sizes, its partnership with a leading hospital system (St. Elizabeth Healthcare), and its familiarity. She grew up in the Northern Kentucky area and closely followed the development of the Northern Kentucky Campus, which opened in 2019 to address the Commonwealth’s physician shortage.

“It’s special. It’s unique. You’re helping start something that Northern Kentucky hasn’t had in the past,” she said.

Nicely feels even more embedded in her community because she just bought a 55-year-old home she is gradually renovating. When she starts medical training this fall, studying will take some time away from home projects. But she said she’s excited to follow in her aunt’s footsteps and begin a career of helping others through medicine.