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
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
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.