PEMBROKE — Each year, two of the 86 seats in the entering class of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are reserved four years in advance for deserving students at UNC Pembroke.
This year, the distinct honor goes to incoming freshmen Sayeed Kabir and Lindsay Branch, who were named 2021 Early Assurance Scholars. Considered one of the most prestigious four-year merit awards at UNCP, the Early Assurance program pays for tuition, books and room and board.
Kabir describes the congratulatory phone call from the dean of admissions at Brody as life-changing.
“It was a conversation I’ll never forget,” he said. “Growing up, I never thought of myself as anything greater than average, so winning this scholarship reflects my potential. It’s indescribable. I am beyond blessed.”
Originally from New York, Kabir lives in Raeford and is a 2021 graduate of Hoke County High School, where he was a member of the Beta Club, National Honor Society and Track and Field team. He helped establish SAFEA, a club designed to bring environmental awareness to the school.
He plans to major in biology with a biomedical emphasis with the goal of opening a physical rehabilitation clinic.
“This recognition is something I needed,” he said. “It gave me a boost and the fuel I need to make my dreams come true.”
Branch of Lumberton was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Dillon Christian School. She was a member of the yearbook staff, Anchor Club, Beta Club and softball and volleyball teams.
“I am so honored and excited to be named an Early Assurance scholar,” she said. “It’s such an honor and a privilege to go to UNC Pembroke for four years and then straight to medical school. This is an amazing opportunity.”
Branch developed a passion for medicine at a young age, but it was the tragic loss of her high school friend Sophie El-Mahdy, that guided her decision to pursue a career in the medical field. El-Mahdy died from a pulmonary embolism in November 2019. She was 16.
“She wanted to go into medicine, so I feel like I’ve been called to do this in her memory.”
Branch also plans to study biology with a biomedical emphasis. She is considering pursuing a career in family medicine.