Her mother is an educator, her grandmother is an educator, and Kristina Whitley plans to follow in their footsteps.
“I plan to teach as a high school teacher in a rural school because that is where my heart is,” Whitley said. “My current high school is in a high priority area, and I see the need for committed, passionate teachers.”
Coming from Marshville, which is about an hour southeast of Charlotte, Whitley said the impact her mother and grandmother have on their community inspires her.
“I have had the opportunity to firsthand see how they have impacted many students’ lives,” she said. “So many students are intelligent but don’t have the support or foundations to reach their highest potential, and so they fall through the cracks, and this is where I want to be to help them back up and succeed.”
EC Scholars is the most prestigious undergraduate award program offered at ECU. The four-year merit scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients receive an Honors College scholarship for four years, along with a stipend for study abroad, for a total value of $62,000.
Already committed to attending ECU, Whitley said she was blown away when she discovered the benefits of being named an EC Scholar.
“I got to see how close the scholars work with their advisers to set up things like internships and to work with different organizations throughout the community, which is great because … I look forward to doing community service in the Greenville area,” Whitley said.
“On the EC Scholar tour day, I got to see some of the current scholars present what being an EC Scholar has led them to, and this just set off so many ideas and dreams that I want to do with the help of the program.”
Like her fellow EC Scholars, Whitley is excited for the opportunity to study abroad and fuel her passion for different cultures. Although she has not finalized her study abroad destination yet, Whitley does have ideas, including Rome, Greece, Great Britain, or Central and South America.
To aid her journey to becoming a teacher, Whitley will belong to the College of Education Living-Learning Community of Scholars and looks forward to taking advantage of everything the college and residence hall have to offer.
“The ECU College of Education set itself apart from other schools due to things such as their Rural Education Institute and Mursion training that no other school had to offer,” she said. “I have been a cheerleader for seven years, and I love school spirit, so what better place to find school spirit than at East Carolina.”
Whitley is the daughter of Chad and Jennifer Whitley of Marshville.
High school: Forest Hills High School
Intended major: History and history education