Friday, 25 June 2021 12:37

RichmondCC graduate headed to Duke for medical school

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 Sage Atkins graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in May and will be starting medical school at Duke University this fall. He is a 2018 graduate of Richmond Community College. Sage Atkins graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in May and will be starting medical school at Duke University this fall. He is a 2018 graduate of Richmond Community College. Contributed photo

HAMLET — Scotland County native Sage Atkins will be sporting a darker hue of blue this fall when he begins medical school at Duke University.


Atkins graduated May 15 from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry. Just three years prior, the young man was accepting his Associate in Science degree from Richmond Community College.

Atkins applied to multiple medical schools and was accepted by four of them, including both Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. 

“I was fortunate enough to receive a similar scholarship at UNC-CH, but the scholarship at Duke offered slightly more money. Ultimately, the curriculum, opportunities to further explore my research interests, and the community at Duke were the major deciding factors in choosing to go there,” Atkins said.

Life as a Tarheel

As an undergrad at UNC-CH, Atkins was part of a lab that studied the Epstein-Barr Virus, the virus responsible for mono and various forms of cancer.  

“As part of my research, we discovered a drug that was effective at reducing infectious transmission and tumor formation in the lab,” he said.

While Atkins is excited to begin medical school at Duke, he said he will always be a Tarheel at heart and will miss Carolina’s traditions such as rushing Franklin Street and drinking from the well.

“I enjoyed the diversity of my undergraduate classes, but I am most excited to begin solely focusing on learning medicine and how to care for patients,” Atkins said.

A Jumpstart on College

Atkins was homeschooled for his first three years of high school before enrolling at Scotland High School for his senior year. While in high school, he learned about the dual enrollment program at RichmondCC and the RichmondCC Guarantee. High school students who take college classes at RichmondCC can qualify for the Guarantee and take two years free of tuition and fees at RichmondCC after graduating high school.

“Being able to take those college-level classes in high school was a great experience for me,” said Atkins. “It was good for me to see the difference in the work load and difficulty in college classes as opposed to high school. It also allowed me to ease into the experience because I got to start by taking only two classes in a semester, as opposed to having to carry a full college load.” 

He also saved on tuition and fees at UNC-CH thanks to the head start he got with the associate degree from RichmondCC.

Career Decisions

While at RichmondCC, Atkins also took an EMT class, which exposed him to emergency medicine and set him on the path to becoming a doctor. 

“I considered a few different careers in the healthcare realm, but I ultimately decided that becoming a physician would best allow me to have the deepest clinical applications of science and combine my interests in public health, research and teaching,” he said.

Atkin is most interested in primary care and preventative medicine, but he is open to exploring other options he may discover while in medical school.

“I just hope to go into a field of medicine that allows me to build long-term relationships with my patients,” Atkins said.

A desire to care for others runs deep in the Atkins family. His mother, Debby, and sister, Alaina, both graduated from RichmondCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program in 2020. They are both registered nurses at FirstHealth-Moore Regional Hospital and are working on their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Striving Ahead

As for Atkins, he has four years of medical school to complete and then between three to seven years of residency, depending on the specialty he chooses. While he will be an alumnus of two very prestigious North Carolina universities, Atkins will not forget where his education started.

 “I really am very thankful for all the opportunities I had through Richmond Community College. It provided me with all the resources I needed to have a chance to attend and graduate from the school of my dreams, and now on to medical school,” Atkins said.  

Fall Registration Underway

RichmondCC is now accepting new students for the 2021 Fall Semester. Applications can be completed for free online or by visiting Student Services at the Hamlet Campus or the Scotland County Campus. Call 910-410-1700 for more information.