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Local student excels and moves on to vet school
by Marsha Burney


Brielle McElveen has been so busy lately!


First of all, the Clarkton native will graduate next week from North Carolina A & T University with summa cum laude honors (the highest scholastic honors), and she’s very excited about that. Secondly, last week she was selected from her department to speak at her graduation, and she’s been preparing for that. Brielle also just recently attended the Honors Program Banquet at A&T where she collected numerous awards and recognitions for her exemplary work at the University. And, just last week, she had to make a decision as to which veterinary school of medicine she will attend in the fall. Brielle was accepted as a doctoral candidate at Purdue’s, North Carolina State’s, and Tuskegee’s veterinary schools. She has chosen Tuskegee.


"I only applied to those three," Brielle said, "and I was accepted at all three. I am super excited and highly blessed!"


Brielle explained why she chose Tuskegee. "The students I see from Tuskegee are very enthused and proud of their school and its program," she said. "Coming from a big family, a family-oriented school is what I look for. Tuskegee has that and the support needed for me to complete the next four years. I feel they will best prepare me to become the veterinarian I want to be, and they also had the best financial package."


But even before she gets to Tuskegee, Brielle has an exciting summer planned. She has been accepted in an internship program at Michigan State University. They only accept about eight students who will enter Veterinary Medicine in the fall and allow them to have a mock session of vet school. Brielle will be involved in clinical work, field experience, and classroom lectures (in histopathology, physiology, microbiology, and anatomy). She’s looking forward to this summer and also next fall when she starts at Tuskegee.


Brielle explained why she wanted to be a veterinarian. "I have just always had a love for animals," she said.


Brielle has always been a stand-out type of student. She has worked hard and excelled because of that hard work. She’s a very self-confident young woman, yet not haughty. She knows she’s had opportunities, and she’s always pushed herself to be the very best she could be. Despite her many accomplishments, Brielle has always been a humble, genuine person.


She quotes Luke 12:48 as her favorite verse of scripture. "‘To whom much is given, much of him will be required,’" she said. "I have been able to travel so many times and have not taken one dime out of my parents’ pockets until I studied abroad in Africa."


Brielle said that she credits all of her success to God and also the teachings, sacrifices, and strength of her parents. "This community has always been very supportive of me, too," she added.


She said that as the oldest in her family, she has always felt that she had to set the example for her younger sisters and brothers to follow. That hasn’t always been easy, but all of her hard work is paying off in droves for this articulate, beautiful young woman.


During her four years at A&T, Brielle has traveled to many places and had many experiences that laid the foundation for her future. She traveled to Ghana, Africa through the A&T Honors Program. Then, in 2012, she worked a summer internship for the USDA Veterinary Services of Iowa, focusing on exporting animals from the United States to various parts of the world. "There, I was able to work under the Area Veterinarian In Charge, Dr. Kevin Petersburg, and the Veterinary Medical Officers," Brielle recounted. "I loved all that they did from the office to the field work, monitoring government policies and regulations to inspect animal stations and products."


Last summer, she worked at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. "I fell in love with the lions, tigers, and bears," she added, "and I was amazed at how intelligent they are and how fun they are to work with."
Additionally, Brielle has worked for three years at the A&T Swine Unit as an Undergraduate Research Assistant.


When she graduates next week with her bachelor’s degree in Laboratory Animal Science, Brielle will have earned a spot in the top five percent of her graduating class.


While in college, Brielle has been involved in a national organization known as Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences or MANRRS. During her sophomore year, she was the secretary for the A&T Chapter, and she later held the position of A&T Chapter President. She is also a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, N.C. A&T School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Scholar Program, Department of Animal Science Student Advisory Council, School of Agriculture Dean’s Council, and the NC A&T Honors Program, where she has served as a mentor for incoming freshmen for the past three years.


She is the daughter of Freddie and Ilka McElveen of Clarkton, and she’s a 2010 graduate of East Bladen High School.


Brielle’s great-grandmother is Esther Huntley of Elizabethtown. Ms. Huntley was the first black female politician in our county, serving on the City Council, and she also started the first daycare center in Bladen County, "Rainbow Nursery."


Brielle said she has mixed feelings about leaving North Carolina. "My mom has always told me that there is so much more out there than Bladen County," she stated. "I am excited and blessed to be moving and starting my new journey, as there are so many people who wanted the same opportunity but weren’t afforded it. It will be hard to leave my six siblings, my parents, and Trent Martin behind."


Trent is Brielle’s long-time boyfriend and also a Clarkton native. "For the past four years, not only have God and my parents supported me, but Trent has as well," Brielle said. "Every day after class, work, or any unforeseen situation, Trent has been there to encourage and support me. Numerous times he has driven me to and from the airport for travels – or traveled all the way there to bring me back home. He is such an amazing guy, and I am a better person because of him."


Brielle also has a message for the students in Bladen County’s middle and high schools. "Just a few years ago, I was in those same seats that you’re in now" she said. "Cherish the support of your family and teachers while you can because that cannot be replaced.


"Also, get in a good positive group where you ARE NOT the smartest person in the group," she continued. "If you are the smartest in the group, then those other people are only taking knowledge from you. They are not helping you excel to the next level, even when you are helping them. Work smart and not hard. Do not procrastinate. Sit in the front of the class. Set goals and achieve them."


These are not just words to Brielle – they are what she does. And, as busy as she’s been lately, Brielle’s future looks even busier. She has made Bladen County proud, and there’s no doubt she will continue to be one of Bladen’s most successful daughters!

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