Sophia Villani

Coming from a close-knit family of six in the nearby community of Winterville, Sophia Villani sees East Carolina University as an opportunity to be part of another kind of family.

“The EC Scholars program offers unmatched research, internship and study abroad opportunities, as well as a team of support like no other honors program,” she said. “ECU and the scholars place immense value on community service, which parallels everything I stand for.”

Villani already has a plan mapped out. As an early assurance alternate for the Brody School of Medicine, she hopes to pursue a lifetime of service in the medical field, giving back to under served regions of rural North Carolina. To that end she plans to major in public health studies with a pre-med concentration and a minor in nutrition.

“I know at ECU I can make a difference and be more than just a number,” she said.

Several members of her extended family are in careers in the medical field, but none have become doctors. “With their support and the support of the ECU and EC Scholar communities, I hope to become the first physician in my family,” Villani said.

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, along with a stipend for study abroad, for a total value of $62,000.

“Being an EC Scholar means having the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with some of the brightest students and mentors, where we can challenge each other and encourage each other to achieve incredible things,” Villani said. “It means having the opportunity to make a local and global impact through community service and study abroad opportunities. And it also means being part of an incredible academic family.”

Villani hasn’t waited for college to begin her career in the medical field; this summer she will finish up a high school internship as a pharmacy technician in the employee pharmacy at Vidant Medical Center. She will also travel to Europe with the Health Sciences Academy Ambassadors to study foreign medical systems.

Spending time with family, working in a local boutique and babysitting to earn spending money will fill the remainder of her time until moving to campus this fall. Villani sees ECU as a place to challenge herself and meet a diverse group of new friends. She plans to participate in community service activities and become involved in either a volunteer or Greek sorority, and to pursue research opportunities.

Studying abroad, she said, whether in a developed or developing country, will give her a chance to explore different medical systems, building knowledge she can apply in her own community.

“I am looking forward to learning, challenging myself, growing academically and striving to reach my full potential while enjoying all aspects of college in the Pirate Nation,” she said. “I have no doubt that ECU is the right place for me!”

Villani is the daughter of Deborah and Kenneth Villani of Winterville.

“With the support of the ECU and EC Scholar communities, I hope to become the first physician in my family.”

High school: D.H. Conley High School

Intended major: Public health studies

Hometown: Winterville