Sarah Lisson

Going to the public schools I’ve seen what was served in cafeteria lunch lines. Fast food may be cheap, but it’s not the healthiest option. There has to be a better way."

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Parents: Robert and Lisa Lisson
High School: Sanderson High School
Career goals: Nutrition and dietetics


Sarah Lisson: Kids' nutritionist

Seeing the heartbreaking effects of childhood obesity inspired Sarah Lisson, 17, to imagine a future as a nutritionist. At East Carolina University, she found an academic home to pursue it.

While many universities tried to woo her, only ECU won her heart.

“I’m so excited,” she said. When she visited campus for her scholarship interview, she found a warm welcome and dynamic programs. “It has all the advantages of a small school and a small community on a big campus,” she said. “There are so many opportunities open to me. This feels right.”

Lisson, of Raleigh, will be one of 20 incoming freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

ECU rose to the top for its program in nutrition and dietetics. A long-time volunteer at summer camp, Lisson enjoys children. Her years in the public schools showed her the effect poor nutrition can have on youngsters. She wants to change that.

“To build healthy habits you have to start young,” she said. “I’ve worked in day camps, and going to the public schools I’ve seen what was served in cafeteria lunch lines. Fast food may be cheap, but it’s not the healthiest option. There has to be a better way.

“I see a lot of pizza, French fries and fast foods,” she said. “We also have vending machines with chips, cookies and candy. And a lot of kids that’s all I see them eat every day.”

Change starts with family education, she believes. But she also understands the difficulties of eating healthy foods on a budget. She hopes to find and share solutions for the complex problem of childhood obesity.

That work will start at ECU, she said. During her campus visits she met with faculty of the nutrition science program and realized she could follow her dream. ECU offers a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics, as well as an accredited internship; master’s programs and minors in those subjects are also available.

Lisson enjoys participating in clubs at Sanderson High School, including choral music, the International Thespian Society and the National Honor Society.

She was a Girl Scout for many years and still serves as a camp counselor.

One aspect of the EC Scholars program she’s looking forward to is traveling abroad – possibly to study childhood health in Ireland. Sarah is the daughter of Robert and Lisa Lisson.

-- Marion Blackburn

About EC Scholars

EC Scholars exhibit outstanding academic performance and effective leadership skills. They have opportunities to contribute to faculty-led research studies, engagement in the community and multiple service activities.

The amount awarded to scholarship recipients is $40,000 ($5,000 per semester for eight continuous semesters). In addition, EC Scholars are provided with a $5,000 stipend to help support their required study abroad experience.

The entering Class of 2016 EC Scholar recipients have completed a rigorous three-tier selection process that includes: meeting the Honors College admissions criteria, having an additional faculty review and completing an on-campus interview. The incoming EC Scholar recipients have an average combined math/verbal SAT score of 1346 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.89.