By Doug Boyd and Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University welcomed 80 new medical students today.
The 39 women and 41 men in the Class of 2017 range in age from 19 to 35. They are all North Carolina residents. Twenty-seven counties of residence, from Transylvania in the west to Dare in the east, are represented.
Dr. David Holder, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at ECU, told the new medical students about caring for a dying cancer patient – a high school student – last year. “Despite the diagnosis, prognosis or death… medicine gives us a unique opportunity to express the highest of values: compassion and love,” Holder said.
Holder spoke at the school’s annual white coat ceremony where the medical students receive their white coats and recite the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics before beginning their studies.
ECU’s newest medical students received their undergraduate degrees from 23 different colleges and universities, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill having the most graduates, 22. ECU has 17 alumni in the class, and N.C. State University has 15.
Dioval Remonde, who grew up in Roanoke Rapids and graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology from ECU, said the Brody School of Medicine was his No. 1 choice. “I like the small class size, the cohesiveness of the school,” said Remonde, who worked in a research lab at Brody as an undergraduate. “I wanted that familiar support. I know how supportive the faculty is.”
Another reason Remonde picked Brody was its efforts in combatting health issues in rural underserved areas – like his home county. “I know I want to practice in North Carolina, and I would be honored to practice back home,” he said.
The class includes three Brody Scholars, Hugh Quach of Belmont, Mia Marshall of Elizabethtown and Amanda Saad of Cary. In its 30th year, the scholarship program pays tuition and living expenses and encourages participants to design their own summer enrichment program that can include travel abroad.
“I’ve always wanted to be a physician, and Brody is my dream come true,” Marshall said.
“I’m extremely grateful for the scholarship,” Saad said. “Now I can start school without debt, and I know someone is rooting for me.”
The Brody Scholars program honors J. S. “Sammy” Brody, who died in 1994. 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 and David Brody. Subsequent gifts through the Brody Foundation have enabled the medical school to educate new physicians, conduct important research and improve health care in eastern North Carolina.
The scholarship is administered through the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.
White Coat promise
Greenville resident Arun Ajmera was one of seven who entered medical school this year through ECU’s Early Assurance Program. That means when he began his undergraduate studies at ECU, he was guaranteed admission to medical school, provided he met certain academic goals, without having to take the medical school entrance exam. He is the youngest ever admitted to the school.
“It’s going to be hard work,” said Ajmera, 19, who completed his undergraduate degree at ECU and high school at Greenville’s J.H. Rose each in three years. He said he looks forward to learning more with his classmates who he expects will be like family over the next few years. “It’s survive and thrive,” Ajmera said.
Also in the class is Patrick Dennis of Durham who received the Bost Scholarship, worth $2,500 each year.
The symbolic white coats are a gift to class members from the Brody School of Medicine Alumni Society, said Karen Cobb, director of development for the foundation. More than 100 alumni donated approximately $8,200 to pay for the coats and a welcome breakfast for students. Participating alumni were given note cards to write a personal note to their students, and Alumni President Dr. David Collier gave one to each new student.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Elizabeth Baxley told the students their goal should be to care as well as cure. “Your white coat represents a promise to the profession to make it better than you found it,” she said.
In addition to the 80 medical students, 36 students began their studies in the school’s master’s of public health degree program. Total enrollment in that program is 126, and one of the new medical students is an ECU MPH graduate.
BY THE NUMBERS: Brody Class of 2017
• 80 of 80 are NC residents (out of 884 NC applicants)
• 27 counties of residence are represented, from Transylvania in the west to Dare in the east
• 41 of 80 (51%) are male, while 39 (49%) are female
• The average age is 24, with a range of 19 to 35
• 28 of 80 are re-applicants (35%)
• 43 of 80 (54%) are Caucasian, while 37 (46%) are non-Caucasian
• All have undergraduate degrees, while 12 also have done graduate study
• 23 different undergraduate schools are represented: UNC (22), ECU (17), NCSU (15), UNC-C (3), UNC-W (3), Catawba (2), Clemson (2), Wake Forest (2), & 15 other schools in NC & 8 other states
• The average GPA is 3.7 undergraduate & 3.8 graduate
• Average MCAT is 9.8 (29.5 total of 3 numerical sections)