Local student excels and moves on to vet
by Marsha Burney
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
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,
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
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."
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
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
"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