Led to serve others
-- Crystal Baity
Tori Chapman’s experience as a patient will likely help her become a great family doctor.
Last year while playing for her Smoky Mountain High School varsity soccer team, Chapman suffered serious internal injuries when she and an opposing player charged for a ball. The player’s knee struck Chapman’s stomach, and she underwent emergency surgery to remove her spleen and part of her pancreas damaged in the freak accident.
“That event totally changed my perspective,” Chapman said. “Academics are important but so is happiness.”
The sense of community at ECU is a big reason why she chose the university. “I felt the attention, and the care of the staff members and in the EC Scholars and Honors College,” Chapman said. “I love the programs.” Chapman is one of 19 incoming freshman entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.
The scholars’ service programs, her interest in medicine and the Brody School of Medicine’s emphasis on family medicine also factored in her decision to attend ECU. She hopes to do some undergraduate research in medicine, and would like to attend Brody in the future.
“Not only am I in a great program that offers so many things, it’s such a blessing to have been offered this scholarship in so many ways,” Chapman said.
Chapman spent 11 days in the hospital following her accident, and was bedridden before progressing to a wheelchair and walker. “I went to prom with a walker. My friends helped decorate it,” she said.
Undeterred, Chapman wanted to play soccer again, and wore a stomach guard as a senior and captain this spring. “It’s been a hard year but one that really opened my eyes,” said Chapman, who just ran her first half-marathon.
She’s considering an undergraduate major in nutrition and sports physiology before applying to medical school. She’s had the opportunity to shadow and intern with local doctors while in high school.
“By being the patient and the student, I have received two different perspectives on medicine – on what is working and what is not,” Chapman said. “It is this empathy that I hope will shape me into a great family physician.”
Living in Sylva, a small community in western North Carolina, she knows the challenges that underserved areas like hers face. At the same time, she covets the ability to know a community really well and to give back.
In January, she went with her church group to Guatemala where they built 15 homes. “I really feel led to serve others in my life,” she said. “It’s the reason I want to go into medicine and become a rural family doctor.”
Small town living in a county with only one high school has given Chapman lots of opportunities to excel, she said. She is valedictorian of her class, student body president, captain of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, president of HOSA, where she served as a state officer last year, Spanish Club president, Mu Alpha Theta vice president and a member of the National Honor Society.
This summer, she will work for a small rafting company on the Nantahala River before heading to ECU this fall. “I’m just really excited about meeting new people, and being in a more diverse community,” she said. “I can’t wait to start the rest of my life.”
Chapman is the daughter of Tim and Laura Chapman of Sylva.