Hometown/State: Hickory, NC
Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2014
Major/Intended Major: Exercise Physiology
Scholarship(s) Awarded: ECU Board of Trustees East Carolina Scholars Award
Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?
I chose East Carolina because of the welcoming and exciting environment. Everyone here is very helpful and takes pride in their school. I had toured multiple universities before ECU, but none of the other institutions made me feel at home. I felt like ECU was a place that I could grow both academically and socially, so I began pursuing all of the scholarship opportunities available once I knew it was the place for me.
What has your scholarship enabled you to do?
One of the most important aspects of the EC Scholar Program is the required study abroad and stipend. I traveled to Certaldo, Italy to study abroad for the Spring 2016 semester, and it has been the most transformative experience of my life so far. I was able to take classes in photography, drawing, art history, and Italian literature while there. This helped me to become a well-rounded individual because I was able to take classes that interested me outside the field of science. I was immersed in a different country for three whole months and built relationships with locals who helped me better understand the culture. I also had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France while in Europe.
The scholarship really opened up the door for international travel because I soon signed up for a mission trip to the Yucatan Peninsula after returning home from a semester abroad. After returning from my mission trip, I still had enough money to travel somewhere else, so I bought a plane ticket to Lima, Peru. I had peers doing research in Peruvian jungles and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu. Without the EC Scholars program, I never would have been able to finance adventures like these on my own.
What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at East Carolina University?
I interned in a Neuroscience Lab my freshman year at ECU’s PT School with Dr. Sonja Bareiss. She was researching cellular mechanisms involved in chronic pain and recovery. She also did research on the neuroprotective effects of exercise and certain pharmaceuticals on chronic pain stemming from diabetes and Alzheimer’s. This was an incredible experience for a freshman to have, and I would not have been confident enough to pursue something like this if it were not for the Honors College administration. Dr. Bareiss taught me a great amount, and I was lucky to spend time in her lab. I am now preparing for my Senior Honors Project, which will include research collected at the Human Movement Analysis Lab in ECU’s PT School.
What extracurricular activities have you participated in during your time at ECU?
I have been or am currently participating in the following organizations: Chancellor's Student Leadership Academy (CSLA), LeaderShape, Honors College Student Employee, Women's Club Soccer, Pre-PT Club, Honors College Recruitment Ambassadors, and Boy and Girls Club (volunteer).
What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at East Carolina University?
As a student employee of the Honors College, I have had the opportunity to attend the EC Scholar Freshman Ocracoke Impact Trip both my sophomore and junior year as a group leader. This experience has allowed me to make connections with the incoming class of freshmen and help them make the transition between high school and college.
What are your career plans/aspirations?
After shadowing in the Physical Therapy Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center this past summer, I have decided I would like to work in a similar atmosphere with Wounded Warriors and veterans. This was a unique population, and I learned a great deal from working with them. As an Early Assurance Scholar, I hope to work with these individuals after graduating with a DPT from ECU’s PT School.
How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?
Even though I am majoring in Exercise Physiology and plan on attending PT School upon graduation, I still have strong interests in other areas. I would like to someday complete a Master’s in either Public History or Curatorial Studies in order to work in a museum. I feel that sharing this fact with some of my peers has made a positive impact by reminding them that it is more than acceptable to pursue passions outside of their current career paths.