As an Air Force baby of a pilot and flight nurse, I was always on the go, traveling across the country/world well into my teenage years. Being so mobile, if I wasn’t playing with my mother’s suture kits and heart models, I would busy myself by exploring the landscape surrounding our house. I can’t imagine the number of meals that I skipped, or the number of poison ivy plants I brushed, while traversing the woodland landscapes. With both my mother and natural surroundings, it is no wonder that this was the beginning of my two great loves: medicine and zoology (especially turtles!)!
I am a traditional, commuting student who, outside the classroom, has held two jobs consistently throughout my undergraduate career. From cashier and server, to Supplemental Instructor, to Academic Support Center Tutor, I have internalized the teachings of my parents that determination and a solid work ethic are central in becoming a successful, well-rooted adult. I have also been a Relay For Life captain for two years, an Honors College Council Representative for four years, Vice President for Gamma Sigma Epsilon (Chemistry Honors Society), and an active member of TriBeta (Biological Honors Society), the Health Careers Club and Literacy Commons. I look forward to closing out my final semester in Field Zoology with Dr. John Roe, who I hear is a fellow lover of the ever loveable terrapin, so I am extremely excited!
Why did you choose to attend UNCP?
Being a lover of science, but also from a small town that has only one stop sign, I found the intimate but engaging atmosphere of UNC Pembroke to be exactly what I desired. The pivotal moment in my decision-making process was when Dr. Mandjiny grabbed both my friend, Linda Council, and me from a campus tour to give us a personal lab-to-lab walkthrough. He gave us an in-depth explanation for every piece of machinery, equipment, and glassware, showing a keen desire in not only us, but also in fostering a love of science in his future students. I can gladly say that he was, and still is, the highlight of my UNCP experience.
What do you like best about UNCP?
Being part of the UNC system but having a smaller student body offers an interesting dynamic for students enrolled at UNCP. This is especially so in the science departments, where having a smaller average class size of ~30, in comparison to ~100 at other institutions, allows for more interaction with instructors and the class material. This has aided me in attaining a higher level of proficiency in my chosen fields of study, allowing for more time to pursue extracurricular activities outside of the classroom setting.
I have had the pleasure of being a Supplemental Instructor for the one and only Prof. Mary Zets, commonly known as “Meg of the Biology Department” (outside of the Oxendine Science Building) for her tremendous reputation for teaching the biological sciences. For two years, I had the pleasure of assisting her students in and out of the classroom, helping them not only in understanding, but in learning how utterly fascinating biology can be. As the SI course was BIO 1000 (Principles of Biology), the classes were predominantly freshman, so I also had the opportunity to get many of the students on the right foot in terms of study skills, coping with stress, and transitioning to college life in general. Besides being a magnificent help in reviewing material for my Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), it also inspired in me a passion for teaching and aiding others through their educational endeavors. This is so much so that I wish to pursue a teaching position in medical school following my years of practicing surgery. For this, I am entirely grateful for the guidance, knowledge, and inspiration shared by my forever mentor, Mrs. Zets, for without her, I probably would not have been led down this career path.
What are your post-graduation plans?
After graduation in spring 2016, I plan to matriculate into UNC’s School of Medicine in pursuit of a doctorate in surgical medicine. I am currently in wait of interviews, so all thoughts are remaining positive! After school and residency, I wish to follow in my parents' footsteps and join the Air Force, not only to practice and heal those around the world, but to become exposed to different sights, beliefs and ideas. My parents, with their plethora of stories and tales from various nations and countries, have inspired me to travel the world, to take in what it has to offer, and to eventually come to the realization that no matter how different we may look from each other, that we are all the same.
After retiring from the Air Force, I wish to take on civilian practice for a period of time, and then engage in teaching the next generation of physicians. Afterwards, I may decide to pursue my next degree of choice, becoming a veterinarian. So from the looks of it, my final years will probably consist of my either practicing/teaching medicine, honing my veterinary skills, or some combination of the three, time permitting I might add. Being one to never be okay with “down-time,” I see my later years either full of work, reading, animals, raising carnivorous plants, or cooking. That reminds me, marriage will probably happen sometime in there as well…hopefully!