Tarboro senior wins Park Scholarship


Tarboro High School student and N.C. State University Park Scholarship recipient Jonina Wrenn poses for a portrait Thursday at Tarboro High School.


By Amelia Harper
Staff Writer

Sunday, May 1, 2016

TARBORO — A local student's civics teacher once selected her as the student “most likely to change the world,” and now, with the help of the Park Scholarship, she just may do that.

Jonina Wrenn, a senior at Tarboro High School, has been awarded a Park Scholarship offered by N.C. State University. The four-year scholarship includes tuition and fees, room and board, enrichment opportunities and specialized faculty mentoring. This year, 112 finalists were selected from a pool of over 2,000 applicants. She was one of 40 of those finalists to receive the scholarship.

Wrenn plans to major in biological sciences with a concentration in human biology in the hopes of one day becoming a family practice physician. However, her dreams may just bring her back home. Wrenn said she wants to open a wellness clinic in Eastern North Carolina, where she can focus on caring for the whole person, instead of just becoming a dispenser of medication.

“Ideally, I would like to have a dietician and counselor on staff in addition to physicians,” Wrenn said. “I am hoping the contacts I make through the Parks Scholarship can help me accomplish that.”

Wrenn worries about the way health care is handled in Edgecombe County.

“In this area, a lot of people take a lot of medications and the dosages just keep going up. That is not really a solution to the problem. I want to be able to wean people off many of the medications so that they can live longer and have a better quality of life.”

Wrenn uses her mother as an example that inspired her.

“My mother was able to get off her blood pressure medications because she changed the way she eats and now she exercises more. Solutions like that can help solve problems,” Wrenn said.

Wrenn is the daughter of James Wrenn and Mavis Stith, who both are employed at Cummins-Rocky Mount Engine Plant.

Wrenn said she feels Eastern North Carolina will be a great place to ply her trade because “there a lot of problems here.”

“We don't have a lot of access to places like walking trails,” Wrenn said. “We also have a lack of knowledge here. People just do the same things their mothers and grandmothers did.”

Wrenn's passion for people is evident in the way she discusses her desire to seek solutions.

“I just love people. I can't help it,” she said.

One illustration of this is the work Wrenn has done as an attorney in teen court, a position Wrenn said she loves.

“I get to see a lot of kids and help them understand what they have done wrong and how they can do better,” Wrenn said. “I push kids because I believe everyone has greatness in them.”

Wrenn said she was surprised to learn she had won the scholarship because her competition was so amazing. However, she feels her faith played a part.

“My pastor, the Rev. Shirlely Hill, helped me practice for the interviews and we prayed a lot,” she said. “I believe in God and I think that faith helped me to believe in myself.”

Wrenn hopes that her success in achieving this goal will inspire other teens in the area where she says many feel there is no hope.

“The Park Scholarship is a gift,” she said, “but I hope it will help others realize that you need to see the possibility inside you.”