Kairon Brewington of Pembroke and India Smith of Lumberton have earned full, four-year scholarships to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in the Early Assurance Program (EAP).
They are the fourth and fifth students to be accepted into the program, which guarantees acceptance to East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine upon graduation and successful completion of the program’s requirements.
Brewington is a senior from Purnell Swett High School and Smith is a senior at Lumberton Senior High School. Both are outstanding students and well-rounded individuals. Both have family members who work in healthcare.
The newest members of UNCP’s Early Assurance Program are excited about the unique opportunity.
“When I heard about the program, I knew right away this is what I wanted to do,” Smith said. “I like helping people, and I like working with kids. I thought about pediatrics, but now I think I want to be a neonatologist.”
“I have wanted to be a doctor since I was six years old,” Brewington said. “I was accepted at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State too, but the chance to be in this program made the difference.”
Entrance into the Early Assurance Program requires a minimum high school GPA of 3.7 and scores on the SAT of at least 1100. Once enrolled at UNCP, EAP fellows must maintain a 3.5 GPA, complete required pre-med courses and score at least an eight in each section of the MCAT, the standardized test for medical school applicants.
The program pays for tuition, fees and books, and the students were selected through a competitive process. The EAP, which accepted its first UNCP student in 2011, is part of ECU’s outreach mission into rural communities to train doctors, said Sylvia Johnson, director of UNCP’s Health Careers Access Program.
“We have a strong record of sending successful students to the Brody School of Medicine, so this program takes our relationship with them one step further,” Johnson said. “The three students already in the program are doing extremely well. They will do clinical healthcare internships this summer.”
With the aid of the Health Careers Access Program and other health career programs at UNCP, Johnson has guided more than 50 UNCP undergraduates into medical schools.
Brewington said having family role models in healthcare jobs influenced her career decision. She wants to be a surgeon.
“One of my aunts is a nurse and another is a podiatrist,” she said. “I job shadowed my aunt who is a podiatrist. I even watched her in surgery, and I liked that.”
Smith will be the first member of her family to attend a four-year college. She excelled in math and science while holding a job and participating in many clubs and organizations.
Smith has participated in a wide variety of community service activities with Teen Court, in health education and with her church. She was a member of many clubs and organizations, including Girl Scouts and JROTC, which she enjoyed.
“I really got a lot out of my experience in JROTC,” she said. “It taught me a lot about leadership.”
Brewington has a near perfect grade point average and is enrolled in three Advanced Placement courses. She is also engaged in many activities at Purnell Swett, participating two sports and several clubs, including the Science National Honor Society.
“One of my favorite things was going to different elementary schools with the honor society and doing experiments for the children,” Brewington said. “They get so excited when they see our experiments. Our goal is to get kids interested in science at a young age.”
A volleyball player, Brewington said playing sports taught her “teamwork, cooperation, communication skills and determination.”
The pair has many common experiences. Both are in the Native American Student Association and both enjoy art.
Smith was president of her NASA club and a member of the Art Club. Brewington sees a relationship between art and her career goal in medicine.
“I want to be a plastic surgeon,” Brewington said. “I relate my artistic skills to reconstructive surgery.”
Brewington is the daughter of Brian and Katrina Brewington of Pembroke. Smith is the daughter of Diamond and Janice Smith of Lumberton.