Losing her grandmother to colon cancer on Christmas Day 2014 compelled Jada Jacobs to pursue a career in medicine.
“I want cancer patients to suffer as little as possible,” she said. “I want to prevent others from going through what I went through.”
Jacobs will embark on her academic journey this fall as a freshman at UNC Pembroke. She has been selected as the 2019 Early Assurance Scholar, earning her a four-year merit scholarship with the guarantee of acceptance to East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. The scholarship covers expenses to include books, room and board.
The Early Assurance Program is a partnership between ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and UNCP. Up to two seats are reserved four years in advance for outstanding students interested in attending UNCP for their undergraduate studies.
Entrance into the program requires a minimum high school GPA of 3.7 and SAT score of at least 1100. Once enrolled at UNCP, EAP Scholars must maintain a 3.5 GPA, complete required pre-med courses and score at least 125 or higher in each of the four sections of the MCAT, the standardized test for medical school applicants.
The program is part of ECU’s outreach into rural communities with a goal to further its mission of training doctors who will choose to practice in underserved areas.
“It feels very rewarding to be selected,” Jacobs said. “I am excited! I was nervous about not having enough money because I didn’t qualify for financial aid. My parents are having to pay out-of-pocket for my sister to go to nursing school so I applied for as many scholarships as I could.”
Jacobs, of Pembroke, was among a dozen applicants from Robeson County who were selected for interviews at UNCP before advancing to a final round of interviews at ECU.
Jacobs graduated valedictorian of her class at Purnell Swett High and was active as a member of the Beta Club, National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society and NC Scholar Program. She served as a marshal her junior year and graduated with a 4.5 GPA. She earned Superintendent’s Award each year.
She volunteered at two assisted living facilities and served as captain of the soccer team since her sophomore year. Jacobs, the daughter of Windell and Karen Jacobs, also gives her time as a youth soccer coach, remains active in her church and works at Mikoto Express.
At UNCP, Jacobs plans to study biology with a biomedical emphasis.
“My main goal is to become a pediatric oncologist. I want to come back home and practice in Robeson County. I would also love to open a free clinic on the weekends for those who can’t afford health care.”