PEMBROKE — Mikayla Williams earned a four-year merit scholarship at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and is pursuing her dream of becoming a trauma surgeon.
Upon graduation, she is guaranteed a spot in East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. Those are the perks of being selected as the 2016 Early Assurance Program Scholar.
The four-year scholarship pays for tuition, fees, and books and assures the recipient’s entry into medical school, if he or she completes necessary GPA, participation and MCAT requirements.
Williams was selected after a competitive process, which included writing an essay and a faculty interview at ECU.
“I am really blessed and thankful for this scholarship,” said Williams, a freshman from Pembroke. “A part of me feels safe knowing that I have this opportunity waiting for me when I graduate.
“I am really thankful that I don’t have to worry about where I will be going to medical school and dealing with the application process,” she said. “It is a great feeling knowing that the next eight years of my life are planned out.”
Williams excelled academically and athletically as a student at Purnell Swett High School. She was active in HOSA, played tennis, and was a leader on the varsity cheerleading squad. Williams began competitive cheerleading at the age of 7. She graduated with a 4.1 GPA.
Entrance into the Early Assurance Scholars Program requires high school GPAs of 3.7 and scores on the SAT of at least 1100, in the critical reading and math portions combined. 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 Early Assurance Scholars Program is an excellent opportunity for high school seniors who have strong academic merit and a drive to become a physician,” said Natalya Locklear, senior coordinator of N.C. Health Careers Access Program.
“Many students wonder where this program was when they were graduating high school,” Locklear said. “Mikayla is a strong-willed and mature young woman who will go far in life. I’m pleased she had the opportunity to earn this scholarship. She is well-deserving.”
Williams, 19, is majoring in Biology with a biomedical emphasis. She completed her first semester with near-perfect GPA.
“My first semester went so much better than I thought it would,” she said. “I had some really great professors which helped make my first year a good experience.”
Williams is active with the NC-Health Careers Access Program, the Health Careers Club, and is looking to become involved in other campus organizations. When she is not studying, you can find her waiting tables at San Jose Mexican Restaurant.
Her parents, Horace and Flora Lowry-Williams, are retired paramedics, so emergency dispatch jargon was common in the Williams’ home. Emergency calls in the middle of the night and harrowing stories of resuscitating vehicle accident victims dominate dinner-table conversations.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was 14,” Mikayla said. “My parents had a lot to do with my decision. My mom would get a call in the middle of the night, and the next day she would talk nonchalantly about saving someone’s life. I thought that was amazing.”
Williams said her plan is to practice medicine in Robeson County.
Mark Locklear is a Public Relations specialist for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.