ECU's Whitfield combines service, creativity
Name: Wrenn Whitfield
College: Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Majors: Biochemistry, concentration in biology; Business administration minor; Entrepreneurship certificate
Hometown: Kinston, North Carolina
Hobbies/interests: Dentistry, working out, playing violin, cooking and baking, dancing, spending quality time with friends and family.
Clubs and Organizations: ECU School of Dental Medicine Hyde County Outreach Clinic, Rotaract Club of ECU (co-founder and president), ECU Smile Squad Honor Society (community outreach coordinator), ECU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (student vice president), Honors College, Dance Xtensions, Pre-Dental Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society (former member)
Favorite hangout: My house with my roommates
Favorite place on campus: Eakin Student Recreation Center
Favorite place to eat: Simply Delicious
Favorite class: Immunology I and Cell Biology
Professors who influenced you the most: Dr. Elizabeth Ables and Dr. Nathan Hudson
Favorite TV show: “Ted Lasso”
Favorite band/musician: Lecrae
Dream job: Dentist and dental educator
Role model: Dr. Thomas “Rob” Tempel
Your words to live by: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” — Jackie Robinson
Kinston native Wrenn Whitfield has stepped out of her shell at East Carolina University. From helping start the Smile Squad Honor Society to helping establish a dental clinic in Hyde County, she has exemplified the ECU motto, servire — to serve.
The sense of community, especially within the Honors College, was a big part of what drew Whitfield to ECU, she said. When making her college decision, she used lists of pros and cons but still wasn’t getting anywhere.
“And so finally, I just said, ‘OK, what am I feeling?’ And I felt this little tug to come here and I’m so glad that I did,” she said. “I think it has to do with the community and the welcoming spirit that everyone has here.”
Whitfield’s advice to ECU students is to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
“I came to college and I was so quiet,” she said. “I didn’t really talk to people unless I was super comfortable with them. But being in leadership positions has pushed me to interact with all kinds of different people, and I don’t think I would have ended up being on the Hyde County project or doing some of the things that I have done if I had not stepped outside of my comfort zone.
“So that’s my biggest piece of advice to anybody is to make sure that you push yourself because you would never even imagine what you could do and the impact that you could have.”
Knowing she wanted to pursue a career in health care, Whitfield shadowed several health care professionals, and when she shadowed her dentist, she saw him create a veneer for a chipped tooth.
“I thought that was so cool, like he’s being creative,” she said. “You have to choose the right colors and you have to get the shape just right. But you also have to know the science behind it. So all those different things came together and I knew this was what I want to do.”
In 2020 Whitfield found work as an office and clinical assistant at a dentist’s office, which provided the knowledge and background that helped her land a role as the Hyde County project coordinator for the ECU School of Dental Medicine. Each month she and a team of dental students, faculty and a hygienist load up supplies, instruments and equipment and head to Swan Quarter, where they provide dental care to the residents of a county that hasn’t had a dentist in more than 10 years.
She’s also served as president and helped revive the Rotaract Club of ECU and founded the Smile Squad Honor Society, which packages dental care kits and distributes them to schools and community centers. She has served as the student vice president for the honor society Phi Kappa Phi and is part of the ECU Pre-Dental Honor Society, as well.
Whitfield said another new experience was spending a month at ECU Tuscany.
“It was really interesting because I hadn’t taken a literature course since I came to college, so it was a change of pace,” she said. “I have so many core memories I loved. We did a cooking class in Florence and made our own pasta, and we got up at 4 a.m. to hike the Cinque Terre.”
After dental school, Whitfield said she hopes to return to eastern North Carolina and open her own practice. The lessons she’s learned at ECU, both in class and about herself, she said, will help her do just that.
SPRING 2023 GRADUATE PROFILES