Drawn to a challenge
Alexandria Podolski of Raleigh admits there’s a bit of a contradiction between her academic and social interests.
“In high school I have been very academically driven; that’s my forte. I absolutely love math and science. But outside of school I love the fine arts.” The Athens Drive High School senior has spent the past eight years performing with the Christian Youth Theatre group at churches across the Triangle.
She also loves a challenge, as her father, Stephen Podolski explained. “For her 18th birthday, we told her she could choose between money for a new computer or going skydiving. She chose skydiving.”
Podolski will be one of 20 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. She chose ECU over eight other schools including N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholarship nominee.
“When I was looking at colleges, most of the ones I applied to were small liberal arts schools. The reason the ECU Honors College caught my eye is it combines the aspect of a small school — with honors seminars, an honors dorm — where you get to meet people at a personal level, and on the other hand it’s a major research university with medical and dental schools. That’s a big draw.”
Podolski plans to major in biomedical engineering at ECU. She is interested in learning to design prosthetics for victims of war and violence. “One of the best things about EC Scholars is study abroad and that’s a amazing opportunity to me because I would like to go to Africa and work with people there on prosthetics,” she said.
The vice president of the National Honor Society chapter at Athens Drive High School during her senior year, Podolski was recognized as an AP Scholar with Honors.
This summer, she plans to spend some time at the beach with her family. She has two younger brothers. “They will miss me going off to college and I know I will miss them,” she said. Podolski also will volunteer for a week, as she has done the past two summers, with Catholic Heart Work Camp – a program that fixes up homes of needy senior citizens. In previous summers she worked with a group in Charlotte and one in Virginia Beach, Va.
— Steve Tuttle
About EC Scholars
EC Scholars exhibit outstanding academic performance and effective leadership skills.
They have opportunities to contribute to faculty-led research studies, engagement in the community and multiple service activities.
The amount awarded to scholarship recipients is $40,000 ($5,000 per semester for eight continuous semesters). In addition, EC Scholars are provided with a $5,000 stipend to help support their required study abroad experience.
The entering Class of 2016 EC Scholar recipients have completed a rigorous three-tier selection process that includes: meeting the Honors College admissions criteria, having an additional faculty review and completing an on-campus interview. The incoming EC Scholar recipients have an average combined math/verbal SAT score of 1346 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.89.