Alexis Isabella Gillespie



Aiming to make a difference

Isabella Gillespie plans to spend the next eight years at East Carolina University applying her significant energies toward a medical degree. And if the past is any indication, she will accomplish those goals.

Gillespie, 18, is one of 20 incoming freshmen who will enter ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

The Mount Airy resident attends North Surry High School and takes classes at Surry Community College and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. At ECU, she plans to major in biology and environmental science, while continuing her participation in public service.

“Being an EC Scholar means that I have been given a chance to make a difference on a global level,” she said. “I plan to use my opportunity to travel abroad to help those in need of medical attention and to personally gain additional patient care experience.”

Gillespie said she chose ECU because of its small-town atmosphere. “At ECU, I felt like I had a name and people knew who I was,” she said. “I never felt like a number.  My acceptance to the Honors College and EC Scholars program made my decision final.”

Gillespie was named valedictorian of her high school. She has served as president of the N.C. Student Academy of Sciences and founded Empowering Special Populations, which encourages volunteer activities for community members with special needs. Her community service includes work at Northern Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and Special Olympics.

She was named president of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences, winner of the N.C. Science and Engineering Fair, and recipient of a research grant position in the Human Performance and Biodynamics Lab at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. There she conducted research that was published in an academic journal.

Gillespie also enjoyed membership in the varsity cheerleading, swim and track teams. She served as an officer in the Fellowship of Christian Students, was a N.C. Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.

Gillespie is the daughter of H. Lloyd and Faye Gillespie of Mount Airy.

— Doug Boyd

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.