Kelli Soos enjoys kids and loves medicine, so becoming a pediatrician seems a natural choice for this 18-year-old.
“I’ve always wanted to help children,” she said. “It’s been my dream since I was little.”
The best part of all?
“I’ll be Dr. Soos,” she said, laughing. “I want to have my own practice, with a Dr. Seuss theme and all of his books. But that’s a long way down the road.”
Soos, of Gastonia, 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 plans to take pre-med courses as a prelude to attending medical school, so ECU’s strong programs in health sciences attracted her. But the warm welcome she received sealed her choice, even though other universities also offered scholarships.
“I weighed them all and visited all the campuses,” Soos said. “ECU felt more like home. It really feels like a community. I loved it.”
She has a headstart on her career, having worked with infants in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit near her Charlotte-area home.
“Every one of those babies just stole my heart,” she says. Her interest in kids started when she was still one herself. As a 4-year-old, “I’d take care of the little children,” she said. She works at a hospital gift shop now.
When not volunteering or working, she focuses on her advanced placement classes at Ashebrook High School, where’s she was also cheerleading captain. She enjoys her Spanish teacher’s jokes, and doughnuts with her biology class on Fridays.
As an EC Scholar, she’ll have the chance to travel abroad. While the Old World interests her, she’s equally drawn to undeveloped countries where she can learn about pressing health needs.
“I want to go everywhere,” she said. “I love Europe, but I’m not sure if I’ll use my study abroad experience for that. There are so many places I want to go – Australia, Tokyo, maybe even a third world country that needs more medical assistance, like Haiti or the countries in Africa.”
Although she’ll certainly face heartbreaking cases as a medical professional, she feels a calling. “If you don’t help them who will?” she said. “I always wanted to be a doctor, to help people out.”
She’ll carry the optimistic message of Dr. Seuss into her work. She loved his books and still has them on her shelves. Her favorite was Wacky Wednesday.
A member of the National Beta Club and National Honor Society, she is the daughter of Ritchie and Joanne Soos.
— Marion Blackburn
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.