Four medical students earn prestigious scholarship from ECU

Four students at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine have been awarded the university’s most prestigious medical scholarship.

Quashawn Rakeem Chadwick, Ryan Dickerson, Dana Shefet and Uma Gaddamanugu — all North Carolina residents — have been chosen for the Class of 2025 Brody Scholar award, valued at approximately $118,000.

Each student will receive four years of medical school tuition, living expenses and the opportunity to design his or her own summer enrichment program that can include travel abroad. The award will also support community service projects the students may undertake while in medical school.

Since the program began in 1983, 150 students have received scholarships. About 76 percent of Brody Scholars remain in North Carolina to practice, and the majority of those stay in eastern North Carolina.

“The Brody Scholarship is among the most distinguished in U.S. medical schools,” said Dr. Herb Garrison, interim president of ECU’s Medical & Health Sciences Foundation. “We are forever grateful to the Brody family for establishing and continuing to support the Brody Scholars program and appreciate the Brody Scholars who demonstrate constantly why they’re deserving of this tremendous support.”

Quashawn Chadwick

Quashawn Chadwick brings a unique background to medicine with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education.

Chadwick, who is from Albemarle and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, decided to pursue medical school while he served in the Artist Corps between 2016 and 2018.

“I was engaged with young students and the emphasis of the service was on education, childhood development, emotion, learning, and the brain,” he said. “I started reading a lot of scientific literature and decided that I wanted to work in psychiatry.”

Chadwick also attended UNC-Greensboro and found avenues for exploring a variety of interests as he considered his future plans.

“I’m interested in many things, including biochemistry, physics, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy and phenomenology,” he said.

He traveled to Europe and Canada during college for prestigious music festivals, received a certificate of fluency in German in 2017, published a series of poems in an anthology called “Grosse Fugue 3” in 2020, presented genetics research at an “Invitro Biology” Conference in Tampa, Florida in 2019 and won second place at a research competition at UNC-G that same year.

He hopes to use that same hunger for discovery in his studies in the Brody School of Medicine.

“I hope that I can distinguish myself with and develop in my specific interest of contributing to scientific literature, serving at-risk populations and continuing to engage with young students, while at the same time keeping up with the pace of such an intense curriculum at Brody,” Chadwick said. “I hope to be a zealously empathetic and sensitive psychiatrist and to publish on many topics in mental health that interest me.”

Chadwick also hopes his fascination with psychiatry translates to excellent care for his future patients.

“I am especially interested in the ways that our emotions create and are informed by internal biochemical states,” he said. “I am curious about the ways a student’s brain is physically and visibly shaped by their emotions and experiences slowly over a long period of time, and the implications such could have on their ability to thrive and succeed in school, career and life.”

Wherever his path takes him, Chadwick plans to enjoy the experience as a Brody Scholar.

“To me, being a Brody Scholar means approaching every interaction and step on my journey to become a physician with enthusiasm, curiosity, professionalism and sensitivity to represent and stand in solidarity with my peers,” he said.

Ryan Dickerson

Ryan Dickerson, from Jamesville, graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Math and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNC-Chapel Hill.

He decided to pursue medicine after his grandfather received a heart transplant, “allowing me to spend an additional five years with him,” Dickerson said. He was also influenced by his experience with anatomy and physiology in high school courses.

“Knowing the impact that other physicians had on my family and the fascination I experienced while learning about the human body drove me to where I am today,” Dickerson said. “During my time in medical school, I hope to develop the skills required to treat patients at the highest level so that I can have a meaningful impact on the lives of my patients and their families. I also hope to develop close professional relationships with my peers to aid in contributing to a collective approach in health care.

He is the son of Kent and Tracey Dickerson of Jamesville.

Dickerson said he has a particular interest in emergency medicine but is open to pursuing other specialties as he learns about all his options in the coming years. He knows he wants to focus specifically on the impact of health disparities in eastern North Carolina.

“I am passionate about exploring the social determinates of health care and understanding the complexities of access to care in eastern North Carolina,” Dickerson said.

He also hopes to apply lessons he learned as a lifeguard instructor and organic chemistry peer mentor to the next phase of his life.

As a Brody Scholar, Dickerson said he wants to take advantage of opportunities he might not otherwise have access to.

“I am extremely honored to receive a life-changing award, as the Brody Scholar program will open doors and paths that I would not have had the opportunity to explore previously,” he said. “Receiving the Brody Scholarship has made me feel like a part of something larger than myself, and I hope to make all those that have invested in and supported me proud.”

Dana Shefet

Dana Shefet is approaching her medical education with a global perspective.

Shefet, of Cary, the daughter of Dr. Sarid and Sigal Shefet, gained valuable experience and viewpoints as an EC Scholar, ECU’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship, and as part of the university’s Honors College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public health and earned the Robert H. Wright Award for academic achievement, service and leadership. She also participated in research on childhood obesity in the Food-based Early Education (FEEd) Lab.

Shefet also interned at the British Heart Foundation during a summer abroad in London and spent a summer at Yale University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics and worked on a research project, “A Right to a Dignified Death: Physician Aid in Dying in Dementia Patients,” which was accepted for presentation at UNESCO World Conference in Bioethics, Medical Ethics & Health Law in September 2021.

“I have had multiple experiences in the medical field where I have witnessed how the power of the white coat opens an avenue to discuss and intervene in a patient’s life at the individual level and on a more regular basis,” she said. “Having the opportunity to learn from physicians throughout my undergraduate experience has demonstrated to me that I want to make a meaningful impact by promoting conversations and initiatives that are vital to addressing social determinants of health of my patients.”

Shefet plans to immerse herself in the preclinical curriculum of medical school and continue volunteering in the community, including with Head Start nutrition lessons and the Greenville Community Shelter Clinic.

“Serving my community before becoming a physician demonstrates the potential I have to impact the lives of my future patients,” she said. “The power, privilege and knowledge of the white coat will enable me to better fulfill my future role by combining my personal commitment to humanity, equity and medicine while being a voice for those who do not feel they can speak for themselves.”

She also plans to find ways to interconnect her nutrition expertise with patient wellness.

“I look forward to exploring how my future role as a physician can allow for conversations and preventative initiatives with my future patients,” she said.

To Shefet, being a Brody Scholar means having the freedom to choose a specialty based on her passions instead of financial constraints.

“The Brody Scholars program is the ideal avenue to combine my commitment to eastern North Carolina, family medicine and leadership in medicine,” she said. “Being a part of the Brody Scholar community is the embodiment of East Carolina’s mission of servire, and I know through the Brody Scholars program I will be given the tools and resources to leave an impact throughout eastern North Carolina.”

Uma Gaddamanugu

Uma Gaddamanugu has seen firsthand the power of passion and knowledge in medical education.

Gaddamanugu, the daughter of Prasad and Shobha Gaddamanugu of Winston-Salem, volunteered for two summers with a community development nonprofit in rural India, teaching reproductive health assessments and menstrual hygiene workshops for women.

“The following summer, I helped open the village’s first women’s health clinic and assisted in training a team of community health outreach workers,” she said.

Gaddamanugu also served as a doula at UNC Hospitals, where she also worked to create a training curriculum to help providers work with victims of sexual violence using a trauma-informed approach to care. During graduate school, she worked as an anesthesia assistant at Triangle Implant Center, an oral surgical clinic in Durham.

She earned a degree in public health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 and a master’s in physiology from North Carolina State University.

“My perspectives on medicine were shaped by my undergraduate public health curriculum, where I developed a passion for combatting maternal and child health disparities,” she said. “My experiences as a volunteer doula and health intern in rural India shed light on how providers can sustainably advance health equity through socially contextualized, accessible patient care. As a physician, I realized I could accomplish my goals and integrate my passion for women’s health and health promotion into daily clinical practice.”

Gaddamanugu is eager to begin her medical school journey with specific goals in mind.

“In medical school, I hope to learn how to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care while exploring how various factors, including social determinants, contribute to the evolution of health and disease,” she said.

Being a Brody Scholar, she added, brings a level of expectation for her accomplishments and impact over the next four years.

“To me, being a Brody Scholar means that a strong community of compassionate, service-driven providers believe in my ability to succeed as a physician,” she said. “This opportunity has given me the confidence to pursue a medical career that is solely dedicated to improving the health of underserved communities without being constrained by the financial burden of medical school.”