MaHogany Roper

Aspiring doctor MaHogany Roper has already spent several years immersing herself in the health care field before starting college, let alone medical school.

At J.D. Clement Early College High School in Durham, Roper was a member of the Minorities in Medicine Club, where she learned about career paths in medicine. For three years, she participated in the Duke Health Profession Recruitment and Exposure Program, where Duke University medical students and faculty mentored her and provided multiple experiences and interactions with medicine. While researching peripheral artery disease for a project in the program, Roper developed an interest in cardiology.

“I liked learning about the heart,” said Roper, who intends to major in biology as an EC Scholar at East Carolina University. “I want to go to medical school and be a cardiovascular surgeon or a cardiologist.”

Roper chose ECU as the place to make her medical dreams a reality. Roper, 18, is the daughter of Arlena Roper and a member of the newest class of EC Scholars, 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 and a stipend for study abroad for a total value of nearly $64,000.

“ECU and EC Scholars will increase my chances of going where I want to go in life,” Roper said. She added that she visited campus before COVID-19 in 2020 and got a homey feeling that was absent from other universities she toured.

“I liked the personal touches the EC Scholars program had. Talking to other scholars here convinced me this is the right place,” she said. “I want to go to a place where I feel like I have a family, a place also focused on academics and helping you become a more well-rounded person.”

Roper enjoyed a similar family atmosphere as a scholar with the Emily Krzyzewski Center, an organization in Durham that helps underrepresented students with college readiness. Outside of academics, Roper works at Five Guys Burgers and Fries and leads a charity drive called MaHogany Gives Back, which provides homeless women and children with basic necessities.

“I’m most proud of my community drive. It’s really been fun to reach out and talk to your community. It gives you the sense you’re helping,” she said.

When she gets to campus in the fall, Roper said she is looking forward to joining student organizations such as A Moment of Magic and club softball. For her EC Scholar study abroad, she’s considering somewhere in the United Kingdom. This summer, she’ll head to Central America to study STEM and sustainability in Costa Rica with the Council on International Educational Exchange, a nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization.

“I liked the personal touches the EC Scholars program had. Talking to other scholars here convinced me this is the right place.”

High school: J.D. Clement Early College High School

Intended major: Biology

Hometown: Durham

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