Brody Scholars navigate challenging journey

Since the Brody Scholars program began in 1983, 154 students have received scholarships to attend East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

The four newest recipients of the university’s most prestigious medical scholarship have begun their second semester as student doctors and are taking in all the opportunities, patient interactions and experiences the Brody Scholars program provides them.

Eduardo Castañeda, Abby Ulffers ’23, Mohsen Zakaib and Christian Smallwood ’20 ’21 are the Class of 2027 Brody Scholar and Brody Fellow award recipients. The scholarship, valued at approximately $118,000, provides each scholar four years of medical school tuition, living expenses and the opportunity to design a summer enrichment program that can include travel abroad. The award will also support community service projects the students may undertake while in medical school. The Brody Fellow award covers a smaller portion of the total tuition.

About 76% of Brody Scholars remain in North Carolina to practice, and the majority of those stay in eastern North Carolina.

All four said the shared experience, friendships built between them and support from upperclass students has helped them nagivate their first year.

They have been motivated by the depth of knowledge the faculty provide and how they relate their areas of expertise to health and medicine as a whole and by how quickly they interacted with patients in a clinical setting.

Class of 2027 Brody Scholars

Christian Smallwood

Surgery to correct season-ending injuries brought a career in medicine into focus for Smallwood. He is on course to become a physician as the Brody Fellow in the 2027 class at the Brody School of Medicine.

Eduardo Castañeda

The idea of becoming a physician was planted in Eduardo Castañeda at 7 years old through interaction with his mother’s cardiologist while living in Guatemala.

Abby Ulffers

Ulffers ’23 is an ECU Brinkley-Lane Scholar and earned a Bachelor of Science in public health. She aims to “grow into a physician who has a platform to serve the people of eastern North Carolina.”

Mohsen Zakaib

Zakaib’s path to service through medicine became clear during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic while volunteering at testing sites and listening to the pandemic’s impact on others.