McMillan Sisters Share Love of Community Service
In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Sherrá and Shawnté McMillan.
By Judy Currin
Born just one minute apart, identical 25-year-old twins Sherrá and Shawnté McMillan know what it means to share. In early years, gifts of clothing and toys were split fifty-fifty. Their mother Melvinia divided her love and care between them. They even shared a large extended family, and a younger brother, Kenneth “K.J.,” now 13.
As they grew, the two girls developed similar career interests and matching goals of attending East Carolina University, where they both graduated and where they both are now employed. Along the way, they found another characteristic in common. Both Sherrá and Shawnté find great pleasure in giving back to others.
Shawnté believes the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child” was evident in both the sisters’ lives while they were growing up in Winston-Salem.
“I truly appreciate the wisdom I received from great aunts and uncles, cousins, grandmothers and my mom,” she said.
Her upbringing led Shawnté to a helping profession. She is a health educator with Student Health Services on campus. “I love working with the students,” Shawnté said. “Giving back to ECU and the Greenville community is the best feeling in the world.”
“Being a health educator has been my dream,” she said. “ Working at Student Health gives me the flexibility of doing something different every day and working for an ever changing student population. What more could I ask for?”
The sisters enrolled as ECU freshmen in the fall of 2000.
“I came here to become an athletic trainer,” Shawnté said.
“But later, I changed my major to health education and promotion with a concentration in worksite health.” She credits her interest in the health field, in part to the “inspired instruction from professor, Dr. David Chenoweth.”
As an undergraduate, she volunteered at South Central High School as their Color Guard choreographer. She has worked with area step teams, mentored the young women at Girl Power and sang in the choir at York Memorial AME Zion Church. She joined the Healthy P.I.R.A.T.E.S to further expand her knowledge in educating the student body.
Shawnté expects to complete course work for an M.A. degree in wellness in July. Plans for an October 2009 wedding are under way.
Sherrá began working at ECU in 2005 as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Health and Human Performance. She held a similar position in the College of Nursing. A stint with the Brody School of Medicine led to full-time employment as a curriculum specialist in the pre-doctoral program of family medicine.
“When that grant ran out I began working as an academic advisor in the College of Nursing,” she said.
Like her sister, Sherrá said she “loves working with the students. It is rewarding to be able to assist them in their academic needs.”
Her greatest satisfaction comes from motivational speaking engagements. Sherrá was a rape victim in 2002.
“The ordeal left me depressed and angry,” she said. “With counseling and renewal of my faith I began to speak about my experience locally and on campus. I now consider myself a survivor rather than a victim.”
Sherrá became involved with the Greenville community through her church, York Memorial AME Zion in the West Greenville area. “We serve food at the homeless shelter throughout the year and provide programming catered to the residents in the area, such as voter registration, HIV prevention, and health fairs,” she said.
Since 2003 both sisters have actively volunteered through their sorority, Zeta Phi Beta. Sherrá gives her time to the Little Willie Center, Girl Power, voter registration, March of Dimes, PICASO and scholarship initiatives for local youth.
She graduated from ECU with a B.S. in school health education in 2004 and in 2007 received her M.A.Ed. in health education.
While Sherrá is thrilled about her sister’s pending marriage, she acknowledges it will be the first time they have not lived together for all of their 25 years.
“Maybe they will have me over for dinner,” she said.