August 10, 2017
Three students in the Brody School of Medicine’s Class of 2021 have been awarded the school’s most prestigious scholarship.
The Brody Scholar award, valued at approximately $112,000, includes four years of medical school tuition, living expenses and the opportunity to design a summer enrichment program that can include travel abroad. The award also supports community service projects the students may undertake while in medical school.
This year’s recipients are Ann Tooley of Kitrell, Jessica Tucci-Herron of Greenville and Lindsey Burleson of Albemarle.
Tooley graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a degree in nutrition science and a minor in psychology. While attending school, Tooley volunteered at Rex Hospital and for the Granville-Vance Faith Initiative for Community Action. She held two chairman positions through her sorority and was a member of both Phi Kappa Phi and Order of Omega honor societies. She also worked as a certified nursing assistant at an assisted living and memory care facility and played intramural volleyball.
A tough family medical diagnosis led Tooley to her passion for healthcare. “During high school, I helped to care for my grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I found a lot of fulfillment in that role, and realized that I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to actively serve others,” said Tooley.
But the drive to care for others isn’t the only thing that drew Tooley to medical school. “I’m also fascinated by science and the way that the tiniest chemical reactions and mechanisms can support and affect the ‘big picture,’ During my time volunteering at the hospital and observing physicians, I realized that medicine involved the mix of science and service that I was looking for,” said Tooley.
During her time at Brody, Tooley plans to focus on learning from the diverse backgrounds of faculty and her fellow students to acquire the skills necessary to be an “effective and compassionate physician.” She hopes to one day serve and improve the health of rural communities. This includes efforts to one day create or participate in initiatives that would empower the youth of rural and underprivileged areas who wish to study medicine.
For Tooley, being named a Brody Scholar means turning those hopes into a reality. “Receiving this award has deepened the commitment and responsibility I feel to serve the community around me, and the gift of an education without financial burden means that I will be able to freely pursue a career based on these motivations,” said Tooley. “To me, being a Brody Scholar means that my journey towards a medical career is about more than just myself.”
Tucci-Herron grew up in Greenville and graduated from J.H. Rose High School. She then attended East Carolina University, where she graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. During her time at ECU, Tucci-Herron was the recipient of the EC Scholars award and a member of the Sigma Delta Pi National Spanish Honor Society. She worked as a peer tutor at the Pirate Academic Success Center, as a cardiac catheterization lab assistant at Vidant Medical Center, and as a caregiver for high school students with disabilities. Additionally, Tucci-Herron participated in intramural sports and volunteered at several locations including Adapted Physical Education of Pitt County and the Pitt County Care Clinic.
Tucci-Herron has been exposed to the world of healthcare her whole life, from helping her disabled sister navigate daily life to learning through her mother, a nurse practitioner who often shared her love and enthusiasm for health care. Her time spent as a lab assistant and volunteering at various institutions cemented her decision to go to medical school.
Her goals for medical school sound simple, but they are powerful. “Aside from persevering through the first years of coursework, my main goal during medical school is to make a positive impact in the community of eastern North Carolina,” said Tucci-Herron.
She wants to keep an open mind while entering medical school but has a few interests. “My oldest sister has three young girls, so being an aunt from a young age has developed my interest in working with children. I am heavily considering becoming a pediatrician, and enjoy the field of psychology, so I have thought about combining these passions as a child psychiatrist,” said Tucci-Herron.
She’s also interested in serving disabled populations and the Hispanic community. Inspired by the adoption of her sisters from Guatemala, she hopes to one day practice as a bilingual physician.
To Tucci-Herron, being named a Brody Scholar is more than just a chance to go to medical school without the financial burden. “I recognize that the Brody scholarship is an investment in myself as a medical student, and I plan to invest myself back into eastern North Carolina, through service and leadership roles,” she said. “It means focusing on serving the underserved to the best of my ability, and doing so selflessly, without a need to be individually commended.”
Burleson is a 2016 graduate of Western Carolina University Honors College, where she earned a degree in chemistry. She was a student athlete on the WCU Women’s Basketball team for four years and a recipient of the Curtis and Enid Meltzer Endowed Scholarship. Burleson was involved in multiple WCU medical research efforts and volunteered at Blue Ridge Health (formally known as Jackson County Good Samaritan Clinic) throughout her undergraduate education and subsequent gap year.
Burleson has known she wanted to work in healthcare since she was young. During her time at WCU she was given opportunities to explore the clinical and laboratory research side of medicine and credits the experience for helping her make the decision to attend medical school. She plans to become involved in more research with clinical implications during her time at Brody.
In addition to her love for research, Burleson has another focus when it comes to healthcare. “I am particularly passionate about providing healthcare to women in underserved populations,” said Burleson. “I someday I hope to be able to dedicate a portion of my career to providing free care for women and educating populations on healthcare disparities in rural communities.”
“Being named a Brody Scholar is a huge honor and I feel blessed to have the support of the Brody Family and their commitment to the students and future physicians of North Carolina. As someone who has attended North Carolina public schools for my entire life, I am consistently blown away and inspired by the willingness of North Carolina residents to educate and mentor their students,” said Burleson.
In its 35th year, the Brody Scholars program honors J.S. “Sammy” Brody. He and his brother, Leo, were among the earliest supporters of medical education in eastern North Carolina. The legacy continues through the dedicated efforts of Hyman Brody of Greenville and David Brody of Kinston. Subsequent gifts from the Brody family have enabled the medical school to educate new physicians, conduct important research and improve health care in eastern North Carolina.
Since the program began in 1983, 137 students have received scholarships. About 70 percent of Brody Scholars remain in North Carolina to practice, and the majority of those stay in eastern North Carolina.