There is already something so inspirational about the HBCU experience, in a sense that you are surrounded by a myriad of educated, ambitious young people, all striving towards common goals. Amongst that cluster are always the ones who-for whatever reason-stand out, whether it be in the realm of academics, athletics, community service, and so forth. These are students whose presence alone forces everyone around them to not only recognize the spark they have, but also inspire greatness within themselves. Ms. Ke’Asia Craig, who at 18-years-old received acceptance into medical school and at 19-years-old is an HBCU graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (with a primary interest in psychiatry) is absolutely one of those students who stopped at nothing to accomplish her goals.
CH: First of all, let me start by saying congratulations for making the illustrious North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University look so good! Let’s start with the basics. What made you choose North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University?
KC: Well, initially during my senior year of high school I applied to 11 different colleges. These colleges ranged from institutions such as UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Miami to North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central University. My mom recommended that I try an HBCU because she thought that I would benefit from the atmosphere. I chose A&T specifically because of the vibe on campus when I first visited. I loved how I was surrounded by educated black individuals who were trying to better themselves. That type of environment is so empowering, and the reason why HBCUs are so valuable. Plus, there isn’t nothing like that Aggie Pride!
CH: Absolutely agree! And with all do respect to North Carolina Central, I think you made a great choice! At what point did you know you wanted to go into medicine? Did your parents influence you or was in strictly something you wanted for yourself?
KC: My mother was one my biggest influences in choosing my path of medicine. My mom is a pharmacist, and my grandmother worked in a medical office so you can say that I always knew I would go into medicine because medicine is all that I was around. My mom used to take me to work where I would watch her count prescription pills and complete orders, so at first I wanted to be a pharmacist. In high school I fell in love with psychology, and I knew that studying mental processes and behavior was what I wanted to do in life. After researching, I realized that psychiatry was the perfect mixture of psychology and pharmacy. The rest is history!
CH: Medical school acceptance at 18 years-old and obtaining a Bachelor’s degree at 19 years-old are two very noteworthy milestones. I admire your ambition! Tell us a little about the route you took.
KC: It is a bit complicating to explain, but I went to middle college in high school, which means that I was dual enrolled in high school and community college at the same time. I started taking college classes my junior year of high school. By the end of my senior year, I accumulated around 50-60 credits. Around that time, I applied to A&T and was researching about the Early Assurance Scholars Program. In this program, which is a partnership between Eastern Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and NC A&T, two incoming freshmen were chosen to be the guaranteed recipients of medical school seats upon graduation from A&T as long as the program requirements were upheld. I applied to this program, receiving one of the two seats at Brody School of Medicine with the entering Class of 2018 (Graduating class of 2022). While I was enrolled at A&T (majoring in Psychology), I also managed to stay enrolled at the community college. My class workload for the 4 semesters that I was attending both A&T and the community college was up to 25 credit hours a semester. My goal was to graduate in two years, and with hard work, I just knew it was very possible. This May, I graduate from the illustrious NORTH CAROLINA AGRICULTURAL & TECHNICAL STATE UNIVERSITY with a 3.5, having been on the Dean’s List all four semesters I attended.
CH: What a rewarding feeling to finally cross that finish line. The workload for a student in your field is certainly massive and going well over maximum credit hours for the average student only added to the challenge. Was there a time when you didn’t think you’d be able to make it? If so, how did you regain confidence?
KC: There were PLENTY of times I thought I would not make it. Sometimes I would get so caught up and overwhelmed by the goal I was attempting to accomplish, that I honestly thought it was best to give up. However, through prayer, and an amazing support system compiled of my parents and my boyfriend, I managed to get through. My boyfriend literally had to handle my tears and breakdowns about school and grades, but he always told me that he would not let me give up no matter what. Realizing how important my goal was to me on a daily basis made me regain confidence, and succeed.
CH: That’s such a blessing to have such a strong support system. While you were in school, what did your social life comprise of? What was your idea of the perfect weekend?
KC: My first year at A&T my social life was poppin! I was always out, always at parties, always on the scene. However, when I noticed my grades were suffering, I knew I had to make a change. So, this past school year I moved in with my boyfriend and became laser focused. I did not have much of a social life this past year because of my immense courseload, however I still had fun. My perfect weekend would be going to the movies or the science museum with my boyfriend, and a little Netflix and chill!
CH: Sounds good to me! So now that you are officially an alumna of the North Carolina A&T State University, have you made a final decision about what’s next? Would you like to tell people where you’ve chosen to go for medical school?
KC: I will be attending Brody School of Medicine in 2018. Also, I am starting a college success/ career success blog soon so please follow my Twitter at @blissfulallure for more updates!