Student: Nakaya Melvin

East Carolina University student Nakaya Melvin is always up for a challenge.

Melvin is a double major in public health studies and chemistry.

Melvin, a senior from Fayetteville, is an Honors College student double majoring in public health studies and chemistry. She is the first person in her family to go directly from high school to college.

“My mom gave birth to me when she was 19 and took a few years off from college to help raise me before finishing college untraditionally,” Melvin said. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college the way that my family always imagined doing it.”

Melvin said she chose public health because she enjoys helping people and caring for them. She chose chemistry as her second major because of the challenge it presents.

“I’m always up for a challenge, especially with my school work,” Melvin said. “When I first came to college, I wanted to get a degree in chemistry and everyone told me that I couldn’t do that.”

Outside of the classroom, Melvin is treasurer for the ECU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the current Miss Blue and White for the royal court of Xi Nu, a chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. She also is a Gates Millennium Scholar, a program funded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

“Gates wanted to fund minority groups that are disadvantaged from an economic standpoint and give them the opportunity to go to college,” Melvin said.

As part of being an Honors College student, Melvin conducted a research project through her cultural anthropology class by looking at cultural models of food, among African Americans in eastern North Carolina.

“I felt that doing this project was a good way to combine my love for anthropology with public health and my passion to eventually become a physician,” Melvin said.

Melvin said that she loves ECU because of its professors and the community.

“I feel like everyone here truly cares about your success,” she said.

After graduation, Melvin said that she wants to be an advocate for public health and hopes to get into the public health associate program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“After that, I want to go to medical school and become a pediatric oncologist and hematologist,” Melvin said.

Her final goal is to practice missionary medicine and global humanitarianism.

What advice do you have for other students?: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Try new things, join clubs and organizations, network, and soak up every second of this experience because college doesn’t last forever!”

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year?: You can make your own buttons in the library!

Your words to live by: “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

This Pirate has a passion for public health.


Name: Nakaya Melvin

College: College of Health and Human Performance; Thomas Harriet College of Arts and Sciences; Honors College

Major: Public health studies and chemistry

Age: 22

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Fayetteville

Hobbies/interests: Cooking, photography, watching YouTube videos on DIY projects, learning creative ways to make money

Clubs and Organizations: NAACP, NCNW, Xi Nu Royal Court


Favorite hangout: Main Campus Student Center lobby

Favorite place on campus: The lobby of Starbucks when it isn’t busy

Favorite place to eat: Cheddar’s

Favorite class: Physicians at War, an Honors College seminar that discussed the duality in roles of physicians for the military.

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Leslie Cofie – Health Disparities

Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead”

Favorite band/musician: Ella Mai

Favorite movie: “Monsters Inc.”


Dream job: Traveling pediatric oncologist and hematologist

Role model: My mother — She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to conquer.