Hometown/State: Louisburg, North Carolina
Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2013
Major/Intended Major: Multidisciplinary Studies with a focus in Neuroscience and a minor in Religious Studies
Scholarship(s) Awarded: The Langley Family East Carolina Scholars Award
Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?
After touring East Carolina during my senior year in high school, I knew I could see myself succeeding in this environment. From that point on, my goal was to be accepted into the Honors College and the EC Scholars Program. After receiving both of these honors, I made the decision to become a pirate. Programs from other schools boasted perks, but none other than East Carolina were as genuine. After meeting professors and current students alike, I found East Carolina to be an academically rigorous university within a community of people who make a commitment to push students beyond their limits. Along with helping students reach their maximum potential, all of the teachers had a sense of pride and belief in the university. Being an enthusiastic individual, I can’t wait to take part in activities on campus including football games and intramural athletics.
What has your scholarship enabled you to do?
A very unique part of my scholarship has allowed me to embrace exploration and opportunity during all of my summers. First, I utilized my study abroad stipend to pursue my interest in eastern religions in northern India after my freshman year. As a neuroscience major, most were surprised with my decision to study a subject so vastly different. I am intrigued by the interaction and overlap between religion and medicine. India offered a wonderful learning environment to approach this topic: countless temples, a Tibetan medical school, and a number of different cultures. We even approached the subject of the cycle of life, most intensely when we witnessed cremations on the Ganges River in Varanasi. I was able to explore this subject and many others in the most colorful and spiritual place I have ever visited.
During the summer of 2015, I was able to explore Spanish culture and medicine for nine weeks in Spain. I first met Dr. Pories, an EC Scholars Donor, while volunteering at the Greenville Community Shelter Clinic. I was taken aback by his personal touch. He taught medical students not only to explain things with clarity but to do this all at eye level with their patients. This mentorship between Dr. Pories and I blossomed because of a mutual interest in art. Because of his continuous guidance, I have completed neurosurgical sketches for textbook chapter currently in press and a 4 ft. x 8 ft Motherwell-style painting, which is currently housed in the Brody School of Medicine. Last summer, Dr. Pories was instrumental in connecting me with a leader in Colorectal and Bariatric Surgery in Barcelona, Spain. I also chose to take a medical Spanish course prior to this shadowing experience. Through my time in Spain, I learned lessons of language and culture and matured as an individual.
During the most recent summer, I participated in the East Carolina Heart Institute Honors College Internship under a variety of talented physicians in cardiac, vascular, and thoracic medicine. This opportunity offered through the Honors College at East Carolina University gave me an opportunity to not only learn, but also to consider whether or not I could see a future for myself in one of those fields.
What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at East Carolina University?
I have had the opportunity to participate in different kinds of research projects and programs that range from the Brody School of Medicine to the East Carolina Heart Institute Internship I previously mentioned. At the Brody School of Medicine, I was able to pursue research in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in Dr. Jamie DeWitt’s lab. We studied synaptic loss after exposure to lead acetate in both wild type mouse models and those genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s-like pathologies. During the East Carolina Heart Institute Honors College Internship, a peer and I were able to complete a case study on a patient. We learned more about valvular disease, atrial fibrillation, and various interventions and treatments for these diseases. I will complete my Senior Honors Project in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology during my senior year on a project dedicated to exploring Gulf War Illness and its possible effects on microglia in certain areas of the brain.
What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at East Carolina University?
I have been involved in a variety of extracurricular opportunities, and I have been fortunate to transition into leadership roles in some of these organizations. The main organization I have been involved with is the American Medical Student Association. I am currently the ECU AMSA Vice President in addition to serving as one of five AMSA National Premedical Regional Directors. This combination of local and national involvement in the organization has allowed me to build on my leadership and teamwork skills. It has allowed me to learn about advocacy in medicine as well.
I’ve grown immensely from my experience in another leadership role on campus as an Elite Pirate. Through this social justice and leadership organization, I have been able to meet many leaders on ECU’s campus from extremely different walks of life, yet very similar passions for the human race.
What are your career plans/aspirations?
After achieving a B.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies with a Neuroscience Concentration and a minor in Religious Studies, I hope to attend medical school at an institution along the East Coast. Medicine has been the end goal for as long as I can remember. This idea has been reinforced through shadowing experience in a variety of fields: Family Medicine, Bariatrics, Orthopedics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cardiovascular Surgery, and Dermatology. However, I am starting to learn through various experiences that just becoming a doctor is not enough. It will be vital in my future as a physician to advocate for my patients as well as to serve the most basic needs in my community.
What extracurricular activities have you participated in during your time at ECU?
My extracurricular involvement has stretched from the Neuroscience Student Association to ECU Club Volleyball. My favorite experiences have been on athletic teams in the Intramural League. I have played slow-pitch softball and both indoor and outdoor volleyball and soccer. I enjoyed meeting people from all over our campus community based on similar athletic passions.
Activities like sports and clubs act as an outlet for me when I would like to take a break from work and schoolwork. I enjoy sports because they encourage one to live in the present. One cannot excel while regretting past mistakes or anticipating the future. I strongly encourage any student who enjoyed athletics in high school to continue that in a collegiate atmosphere at whatever level of play they are most able to commit.
How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?
East Carolina’s motto, “Servire” was outwardly apparent since the beginning of my freshman year in Greenville when I continued my commitment to service at the annual Honors College Service Day. When I think about the various opportunities to serve ECU, a certain one comes to mind, and I treasure it as one of my most valuable experiences. During the Spring of my sophomore year, a friend and I sensed a lack of campus response to the earthquake disaster in Nepal. Because of my time studying nearby in India, I wanted to find a way to give back to this area. With a peer, we planned a cross-campus collaborative vigil for financial support we would send with the Society of American Nepalese Nurses taking a trip there soon. This experience was intensely meaningful because we were able to show a very small part of our student body and community that they mattered just as much as any other population.