Seeking a career in caring for people
-- Kathryn Kennedy
Like many teenagers, Jessie Tucci-Herron didn’t come home from high school every day gushing about what she’d learned. But one class was different.
Enrolled in advanced placement psychology her sophomore year, Tucci-Herron was fascinated. “I’d come home every day and talk about it,” she said.
Tucci-Herron, 17, intends to continue studying psychology at East Carolina University this fall. She will be one of 19 incoming freshman entering this August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.
She’s interested in the brain, and is considering attending medical school. That interest stems, in part, from watching her sister Jenna grow up with high-functioning autism and attention deficit disorder.
“Autism is one of those disorders that can be hard to understand,” Tucci-Herron explained. “I am considering psychology as a major not only to better understand different disorders such as autism but because I know that caring for people as a psychiatrist would be something I would be passionate about, having grown up with my sister.”
Tucci-Herron said she can see herself one day working as a psychiatrist or – departing from psychology a bit – in neonatal care.
“Even if I decide that psychology isn't for me, I know a career in medicine is what I want because I want to be able to help people like they have helped my family,” she said.
As a native of Greenville, Tucci-Herron wasn’t sure if she wanted to attend college in the same town where she’d grown up. She considered UNC and Duke, but the opportunity to be an EC Scholar kept her here. The sense of community the program provides is important at a university as large as ECU, she said.
“There’s so many people (at ECU) but if you’re in the Honors College, it’s more focused and there are people with the same drive and goals. I’m really excited…to meet new people with the same academic interests as me.”
At J.H. Rose, Tucci-Herron played volleyball for four years, served as treasurer of the Student Government Association, and volunteered with various mentoring programs and the Special Olympics of Pitt County.
This summer, she hopes to earn an internship at Vidant Medical Center or A Small Miracle, a local nonprofit serving children and adults with disabilities and specializing in autism spectrum disorders.
Her parents are Tadd Herron and Karen Tucci-Heron.