"I have been given incredible resources, and I have a responsibility to use that to help others. The Park Scholarship has really opened a lot of doors for me. It has given me the tools to be a better student, a better doctor and a better person."— Emily Gifford '07
"To whom much is given, much is required" — that's how Emily explains her commitment to serve. The recent zoology graduate and future physician volunteered countless hours with patients at the Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic and worked to improve diabetes education while at NC State.
"I have been given incredible resources, and I have a responsibility to use that to help others," she says. "The Park Scholarship has really opened a lot of doors for me. It has given me the tools to be a better student, a better doctor and a better person."
This sense of duty is balanced with compassion for others' welfare — a concern Emily often carried out of the clinic and into the classroom. As an undergraduate, Emily worked with the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences doing E. Coli research. She also joined with the Diabetes Care and Risk Reduction Program which focuses on education, using group classes and individual counseling to improve the health of diabetic patients. Emily trained with other educators and taught classes in diabetes basics. Seeing a need, she even worked to supply a lot of the teaching materials now in use.
"I realized that the program lacked materials that would really add to the classes," she says. "So I obtained a grant to purchase items like fat and muscle models, and Latin American food models for our Hispanic patients, so they can learn about proper foods and portion sizes."
Emily's initiative and service has already garnered recognition; during her junior year, she received an award from NC-ACTS! (a division of AmeriCorps). The scholarship is given to remarkable students with 300 hours of community service.
But Emily says that she wasn't always as assertive in her service. She credits her experience with Service Raleigh as a turning point.
"Being a co-chair was a complete departure from the norm for me," she says. "Before, I was really timid about assuming leadership roles. Service Raleigh gave me a lot of confidence about the leadership skills that I do possess, and also taught me about the ones that I need to work harder to develop. After it, I was a lot more proactive in my service and leadership roles."
This year, Emily is enrolled in a dual M.D. and master's of Public Health program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she will focus on maternal and children's health issues.
"I am particularly interested in helping to found a clinic like the Open Door Clinic," she says, while noting that such a goal might be "many years away."
"In the meantime, I hope to learn as much as possible about how to give the best care possible to the people that have the least."