Blake, Rowson named 2023 Brody Early Assurance Scholars at UNCP

Connor Blake, left, Angela Rowson, are the 2023 Brody Early Assurance Scholars

Freshmen Connor Blake and Angela Rowson are the 2023 Brody Early Assurance Scholars at UNC Pembroke, granting admission to one of the top medical programs in North Carolina.

The UNCP pair have been guaranteed spots in the 2027 entering class at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. One of the most coveted four-year merit awards at UNCP, the Early Assurance Program pays for tuition, books, room, and board.

“Connor and Angela have earned the extraordinary privilege of securing their places at the renowned Brody School of Medicine upon graduation,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “This accomplishment speaks volumes about their commitment to academic excellence and their potential in the field of medicine.

“As they add their name to our list of Brody Scholars, this program exemplifies the heights that can be reached through collaboration, and we are grateful for our strong partnership with ECU that pushes our students one step closer to their educational goals and dreams,” Cummings said.

Blake and Rowson excelled academically at Lumberton High and Scotland Early College, respectively, while simultaneously taking challenging online courses at the North Carolina School of Science and Math during their junior and senior years.

“This scholarship means the world to me,” Blake said. “Throughout high school, I was active in my community and my school, whether with clubs and various sports, so when I was named a Brody Scholar, it meant a lot because my hard work and dedication paid off.”

For Rowson––who has experienced financial and personal hardships––the Brody Award was a major deciding factor for whether she would attend college.

“I was betting on this scholarship,” Rowson said. “I’m really proud of myself and happy to be chosen.”

The UNCP-Brody partnership is part of both universities’ outreach into rural communities to train doctors who will choose to practice in underserved areas. Rowson, an aspiring neurosurgeon, developed a strong interest in the brain at a young age. She remembers when she was nine being fascinated while reading about Phineas Gage, a railroad foreman who survived a traumatic brain injury caused by an iron rod that shot through his skull in 1848.

“It wasn’t that long ago that icepick lobotomies were being performed and that was considered normal,” Rowson said. “It is interesting how far procedures have come, and I want to be a part of the advancement of medicine, especially for people who have disorders, and we’re not sure why they are suffering.”

Blake––whose parents are both healthcare professionals––has his sights on becoming a plastic surgeon to restore the quality of life for trauma victims and breast cancer patients, among others.

“Both my grandparents had breast cancer, so I understand how the effects of breast cancer can affect your confidence,” he said. “I want to be able to help those patients and victims of car accidents and share my skills with them.”

Established in 2012, the collaboration with Brody is the longest-standing pathway at UNCP. Academic pathways allow students to succeed in their career goals while furthering their studies at the nation’s top-rated medical, professional and graduate schools.

Earlier this month, UNCP signed an early assurance agreement with ECU’s School of Dental Medicine, adding to a growing list of academic partnerships, including N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, UNC Chapel Hill's School of Pharmacy, Methodist University’s Physician Assistant Program and Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Ohio.  

“Our collaboration with ECU provides a prominent pathway from the undergraduate degree at UNCP to the prestigious program at the Brody School of Medicine,” said Provost Diane Prusank. “We are honored to offer these pathways to our students and are excited for our Brody Early Assurance Scholars, Angela and Connor, to engage with the expert faculty and modern facilities offered at UNCP.”