Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Abby Warren

Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Abby Warren

Name: Abby Warren
High School Attended: Hobgood Academy
Home County: Edgecombe
College(s) Attended/ Years Attended: East Carolina University (2015 – 2019)
Major(s): Nutrition and Dietetics
Current School Attending: ECU School of Dental Medicine

What are some of your major accomplishments during college?

At graduation, I received Magna Cum Laude and university honors. Throughout college, I was employed at a private dental practice and at the ECU School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Research, where I assisted with numerous research studies and co-authored a publication in the Journal of Dental Education.

What would you tell someone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship about being a recipient?

I would tell anyone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship to do so. This scholarship not only helped alleviate the financial burden of college but also provided numerous leadership opportunities, introduced me to many incredible people, and ultimately led to my decision to pursue dentistry as a profession.

What helped you decide to live/ work in a rural area?

I grew up in a rural town in eastern N.C., and I am so fortunate to have been raised in a community where everyone is always willing to offer a helping hand and no one is a stranger. While there are many challenges associated with living in a rural area, there are also many advantages and opportunities for personal growth. Throughout my experiences, my appreciation for being raised in a tight-knit community has only grown and I hope to live and work in a similar rural area after I finish dental school.

What did you learn during your experience at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?

The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program provided seminars and interactive activities that encouraged the development of leadership skills and knowledge of the qualities that make a great leader. A great leader is someone who actively listens, demonstrates compassion and empathy, and seeks to serve others. The leadership program not only provided information about leadership but stressed the importance of self-awareness in becoming a better leader.

What internship experiences did you have?

I am grateful to have had many amazing internship experiences. During part of my first summer, I was an intern at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital where I learned about nutrition and its role in a hospital setting. The nutrition department works tirelessly to provide meals to patients, visitors, and hospital and community employees. Supplying this amount of food is no easy feat and the organization and hard work that goes into doing so is admirable. The second part of my first summer was spent interning in the dental clinic at the Edgecombe County Health Department. This experience solidified my interest in dentistry and led to my decision to pursue dentistry as a profession.

During my second summer of the program, I was an intern at a private dental practice in Tarboro, N.C. This internship taught me so much about dentistry and led to my employment in that practice for an additional two years. During my time there, I met many incredible people and gained valuable knowledge that has been extraordinarily helpful in dental school and will undoubtedly help me throughout my career.

Did your experiences help shape your decision to live/ work in rural areas? If so, how?

Prior to my internships, I was already convinced that I wanted to live and work in a rural area. However, these learning experiences have given me a better understanding of the challenges that rural communities face and have motivated me to help find solutions to these problems. Participating in the leadership program was eye opening and has provided me with the knowledge I need to be a great leader and the desire to help communities, much like my own, overcome the challenges that they face.

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