Hunt grad pursuing a longtime career goal

Wilsonians helped her as a teen

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Keyanna Jackson has always had a passion for helping people.

In August, the 2012 Hunt High School graduate will attend Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the medical school at Columbia University in New York City, on a scholarship worth $360,000.

“I grew up with my grandparents, and I was always helping them with their medication. I think that’s what started my interest in medicine,” said Jackson, 24.

As a freshman at Hunt, Jackson won a scholarship to attend a summer academic program at the University of Cambridge in England.

The Wilson Times reported on Jackson’s Cambridge Prep Experience through the OxBridge Academic Program in 2009. She was invited because of her high scores on the PSAT exam. Jackson and her mother, Cynthia Jackson, had to raise money just to afford the flight to attend. The scholarship was for $6,695, but Jackson needed to raise $3,700 for travel and other expenses.

Jackson said the response from the community was overwhelming.

Hunt High School, the Wilson Chamber of Commerce’s Dynamic Leadership program participants, the Bethune Women’s Civic Club, the Tau Gamma Delta sorority and even Desean Jackson, a cousin who played wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, made contributions toward the student’s academic trip to England.

Jackson said that initial educational opportunity would not have been possible without the Wilson community’s support.

After graduation from Hunt, Jackson won a full-ride scholarship to Yale University.

“I loved it from the first time I went there,” Jackson said.

After graduating in 2016, Jackson participated in a two-year internship as chief postgraduate research associate at Yale Cardiology. Following her internship, Jackson took a year off to prepare for her Medical College Admission Test.

Jackson was accepted to 10 of the nation’s top medical schools. Her dream of becoming a doctor was coming to fruition.

“It was a small dream at first, and then it became more real,” Jackson said.

Jackson narrowed her choices to four schools that offered full scholarships, including UCLA, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University.

In addition to early support from her grandparents, Louise and Robert Cameron of Wilson, and her mother, Jackson pointed to Dr. Irene Hamrick, formerly of the Vidant Medical Group in Greenville, for giving her support through the years.

Cynthia Jackson said there are many Wilsonians who helped her daughter achieve her successes and she hoped to update them.

“She has worked extremely hard and has accomplished so much in her journey to achieve her goals,” Cynthia Jackson said.

Keyanna Jackson hopes to improve the field of medicine, particularly focusing on health disparities found in many communities.

“I would love to one day manage my own clinic focused on providing care for the underserved and underinsured,” Jackson said.