CALLED TO SERVE
Vanessa Ganey wants to become a dentist, giving back to her community
East Carolina University fifth-year senior Vanessa Ganey aspires to become a dentist and serve her community.
“I’d always loved going to the dentist, but unless it was an emergency, I couldn’t really afford to go. Knowing what that feels like, I want to help give back to my community and provide affordable health care to those in need,” she said.
Ganey will graduate Friday with a bachelor’s degrees in anthropology, a minor in biology and a global cross cultural competency certification. Originally from Jacksonville, Ganey chose ECU after completing her freshman year at Appalachian State University.
“I toured ECU and instantly fell in love with the campus and community,” she said. “I chose ECU because of the diverse degree programs that presented so many opportunities.”
At ECU, Ganey has led a successful academic career with many honors, awards and service. Ganey made the chancellor’s list in spring 2020, as well as the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences dean’s list in fall 2018, 2019 and 2020. She was a member of the Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority and the ECU Pre-Dental Honor Society, served as secretary of the Student Leadership Board and was active in yoga club.
Ganey was awarded scholarships by Paul P. McDonald, D.D.S., the Military Officers Association of America and the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, which awards scholarships to family members of deceased military personnel. In 2005, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ganey’s father, Sgt. Jerry Lewis Ganey Jr. of the U.S. Army, was killed in action while deployed overseas in Baghdad, Iraq.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Ganey volunteered abroad in Nicaragua for a month with Growth International Volunteer Excursions, an organization that coordinates with universities across the U.S. to give back to communities in need. While volunteering, she received her Professional Association of Diving Instructors Scuba Open Water Diving Certification to aid in sustainable development and reef conservation.
“We were helping a community build a septic water tank system for their local school, while also teaching children English. This was a life-changing experience for me,” she said.
This summer, Ganey will apply to dental schools and continue to volunteer and work as a dental assistant, familiarizing herself with the profession.
“I spent the last four years at ECU creating a better future for myself and becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be,” Ganey said. “My time here has been invaluable, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the experiences.”
Name: Vanessa Ganey
College: Thomas Harriet College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Anthropology (BA), biology minor, and a global cross cultural competency certification
Hobbies/interests: Tennis, skiing, golfing, game nights with friends and walking my dog
Clubs and Organizations: Gamma Sigma Sigma, Yoga Club, Student Leadership, Pre-Dental Honor Society
Favorite hangout: Christy’s Euro Pub
Favorite place on campus: For warm weather, the mall; for colder weather, the new student center
Favorite place to eat: Luna Pizza Café
Favorite class: Theory in Anthropology (capstone class)
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Holly Mathews
Favorite TV show: “Outlander”
Favorite band/musician: Tash Sultana
Favorite movie: “Into the Wild”
Dream job: Dentist
Role model: The ideal version of my future self
Your words to live by: You can do anything you put your mind to if you want it bad enough. Life is way too short not to go after what makes you happy.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? All the insanely awesome trips that the student rec center offers like horseback riding on the beach, kayaking, camping, etc. Also, their workout classes like Pilates, barre, bootcamp, yoga and so much more! They also offer nutrition advice, personal training sessions and workout programs that work best for you.
What advice do you have for other students? If you’re trying too hard to conform to a major like biology or chemistry and it just isn’t working out, don’t be scared to branch out and major in something that truly interests you or develops the skills you might already have. We can’t all be good at everything, and when you actually find what you’re meant to be doing, it won’t be easy, but it will be fulfilling and things will begin falling in place. That’s usually how it goes. Just don’t ever give up when things get tough or let others make up your mind for you because when you do that, you’ll end up settling in the end.a and so much more! They also offer nutrition advice, personal training sessions and workout programs that work best for you.