“My name is Brandon Anthony Johnson; I am eighteen years old and a recent graduate of Wilmington Early College High School (WECHS). While attending WECHS, South East Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) Associate Director for Health Careers Cyndi Meredith was placed in my life. She is a one individual whom I consider a second mother, role model, mentor and network for any opportunity regarding health professions. My passion in life is to spread true care for others in need. I am and have been interested in cardiovascular thoracic surgery and all surgical disciplines ever since middle school.

Fall of 2012, I was selected to participate in the region’s Youth Health Service Corps, a nationally-recognized health career recruitment program which engages high school students in training and volunteer projects addressing community health care needs. Throughout my school year, I took control as Ms. Meredith’s assistant making sure all my fellow participants attended meetings on time, making sure there was a location for us all to meet and having all assignments given to us by Ms. Cyndi completed. Along with helping coordinate the YHSC program, I was able to work directly with Ms. Meredith in assisting her in preparing for meetings and activities such as camps, events and school tours. Volunteering at SEAHEC has afforded me leadership opportunities that I could not have otherwise received or cultivated by myself.

Through my commitment and dedication to SEAHEC, I was able to serve on the SEAHEC Health Careers Advisory Board. I was one of two students given the opportunity to be on this district-wide board. I can truly say that I am blessed to have so many doors open for me, propelling me forward in my career of choice.

I have always had a dream to travel the world and be a surgeon, and last year I was introduced to Doctors Without Borders, a program where doctors of different disciplines help people worldwide where the need is greatest. I have a motto of my own that I love people to spread and that is, to have H.O.P.E (Hundreds of Opportunities Prospering Everyday). Due to my career choices, I made the decision to attain an associates in science degree from Cape Fear Community College within my early college program, which will propel me forward into the health care career path of my desire.

About two years ago my grandmother was found at her job unconscious without a pulse. After being rushed to the hospital and put into the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU), many nurses and doctors attempted to resuscitate her in order to get a pulse. She was considered dead due to severe heart palpitations, causing her heart to beat too fast and skip off rhythm. I vividly remember when my mother was asked to make the decision to pull her cord because of age but she denied and minutes after her decision the nurses noticed a weak pulse and from that moment we knew that everything was going to get better. My grandmother just recently had a birthday on April 28th, 2015 and she is doing better than ever.

My interest in heart surgery grew stronger due to this life experience with a relative close to my heart. I became a volunteer at New Hanover Region Medical Center as an ambassador for the surgical pavilion and also as an endoscopy base unit SDS attendant with the cooperation of SEAHEC. I alternated between the two positions every week so that I can loiter in a positive and professional atmosphere.

I am now an attendee of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in health policy and management with a double minor in medical anthropology and chemistry. As an early college student, once we have attained our associate’s degree, we have two academic years left of school before receiving our bachelor’s degree. I decided to stay at UNC-Chapel Hill for three years so that I can take one year to study abroad to South Africa, Melbourne, Australia, Hong Kong, China, or London, England.

I am extremely passionate about further broadening my knowledge in the area of public health in the world, eventually leading me to become a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon traveling the world as a “Doctor Without Border”. I am so grateful to have met so many wonderful and gifted members and staff at SEAHEC and I hope to keep those relationships and connections close.”