Mooney - Shayna

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EC Scholars - Class of 2015

Shayna Mooney

Hometown/State: Greenville, North Carolina

Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2011

Scholarship(s) Awarded: Harold H. Bate East Carolina Scholars Endowed Award

Major/Intended Major: Multidisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Neuroscience

Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?

I chose to attend East Carolina University not only because of my Pirate Pride, but also because of the endless opportunities presented by the Honors College.  The moment I learned about the Honors College, I knew it was the best place for me to grow as individual and receive my education. The Honors College truly created a family like environment and small community feeling.  And with their emphasis on personalized education, I felt I was more than just a number. After meeting faculty and current students, I knew I would receive the guidance and support needed to ensure I was successful in completing my goals. I was also attracted to East Carolina by the Honors College and its seminar-based learning. Through the Honors College, I knew I would be exposed to a wide array of subjects and backgrounds that would help me develop into a better leader and community servant in the global world.

What has your scholarship enabled you to do?

My scholarship has presented me with endless opportunities to grow as a leader and learn about the complex world in which we live.  I have taken a number of courses exclusively for EC Scholars that have challenged me to use different modes of inquiry and discover more about myself.  The EC Scholars Program has also allowed me to meet prominent figures and leaders within the University and community.

During the summer of 2012, I studied abroad in India on a religious studies program.  In addition to experiencing and learning about India’s multiple religions and vibrant culture, I had the most fortunate opportunity of volunteering with the non-profit organization Tong Len and witnessing their incredible work in educating and providing opportunity for children living in poverty.  I have also been able to travel to South Africa and Argentina during the summers of 2013 and 2014, respectively and volunteer in medical clinics.  

What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at the university? 

I have been conducting research on vaccinia virus with Dr. Rachel Roper in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Brody School of Medicine since my sophomore year. Vaccinia virus, the live virus vaccine for smallpox, is extremely dangerous for immunocompromised individuals. Since this cohort comprises a significant portion of the world’s population, a safer vaccine is needed.  In the past , my research has focused on the vaccinia virus A35R gene. It is highly conserved, and our lab has shown that it increases virulence by inhibiting the body’s anti-viral immune responses. My research investigated the mechanism of A35R immunosuppression. I have been able to present my findings at the Southern Regional Honors Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, the Research and Creative Abstract Week at ECU, and BRAIDS conference at BSOM.  Currently, my research focuses on the O1L protein expression and localization. O1L is a vaccinia virus gene that codes proteins involved in virulence. These proteins inhibit the immune responses to increase virus survival and spread, however the mechanism of action of these proteins is unknown.

What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at the university? 

My experience as an EC Scholar has enabled me to become a leader both on campus and in the local community.  I am currently employed as the Director of Advancement and Special Projects in the Honors College and have the incredible opportunity to work on initiatives such as the Polaris Society for Honors College donors, the Honors College Alumni Society, Honors Ambassadors, Students Giving Back Week, and Honors College Orientation. I am the Undergraduate Liaison for the Grimesland Clinic, a free clinic run by the Brody School of Medicine medical students in Grimesland, NC, and president of the Neuroscience Student Association. I also have the opportunity to serve as an Elite Pirate, the Class of 2015 Representative for the EC Scholars Roundtable and Student Vice President of the executive board for the ECU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, an honor society for all academic disciplines.

What are your career plans/aspirations?

I plan to attend the Brody School of Medicine to pursue a career as a physician. I am currently interested in Family Medicine or Obstetrics and Gynecology.

What extracurricular activities have you participated in during your time at ECU?

I volunteer with the Migrant Education Program and the Pitt County AIDS Service Organization. I also serve as an event leader for the regional Science Olympiad competition.  Additionally, I have been able to attend and volunteer at professional conferences such as the XIX International AIDS Conference and the American Medical Student Association National Convention in Washington, DC, and the Empowering Future Physicians Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?

My motto in life goes in tandem with ECU’s definition of leadership, “…inspiring, empowering, and influencing positive change.” Every action I take with the organizations I am involved in is with the mindset of making an impact, whether it is small or large, and to have my contributions and efforts enhance a person, organization, or community. As reflected in the University motto, Servire, this statement promotes the importance of leading by example in order to create a sustainable future for eastern North Carolina.  As a Greenville native, my heart has always belonged to this and to ECU. I have first hand experience of the positive impact made by alumni. Therefore, enhancing this positive momentum with personal contributions is my intrinsic motivation to serve ECU and the community in which I live.