Everything going his way
Spencer Jackson had given up on getting a scholarship to East Carolina University when his phone rang in late April. He’d gotten letters notifying him that despite interviewing for two merit awards, he had not been selected.
Yet on the line that day was Katie O’Connor, associate dean of the ECU Honors College. She asked Jackson if he still wanted to be a Pirate – he did – and asked if he’d like $45,000. A spot had opened.
“I just looked up and literally started bawling,” said Jackson, 18. “Everything this week was just going my way.”
Jackson, of Kinston, is one of 20 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. He plans to study biology as a prerequisite to attending medical school.
“It’s the perfect balance between art and science,” he said of medicine. “And you get to take care of people.”
Jackson’s gotten an idea of what a career in that field entails by spending two years shadowing Dr. Joseph Whitlark, a surgeon at Lenoir Memorial Hospital and owner of Comprehensive Wound Care in Kinston. He’s aided Whitlark with research on platelet gel, and how it might speed up healing of wounds while reducing pain. Jackson will continue his work in that practice this summer, turning his focus now to the properties of antibiotic beads.
The secretary of his school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Jackson played lacrosse and was a linebacker on the football team. He realizes athletes are rarely expected to achieve academically and embraces that paradox. “I’m the nerd, but I like to be physical,” he said.
Jackson is a member of the Beta Club and was named a Presidential Scholar – honored for completing more than 100 hours of community service – three years in a row. He also belongs to the French Club, Service Honor Society and National Art Honor Society.
Despite receiving nominations for scholarships at other universities, inclusion in ECU’s Honors College was always Jackson’s goal.
“Those programs…don’t give you the opportunities that EC Scholars does,” he said. “The opportunities to research, to study abroad.”
“I’m extremely excited about EC Scholars. Who wouldn’t be?”
Jackson is the son of Jay and Sandra Jackson. He attends Arendell Parrott Academy.
— Kathryn Kennedy
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.