St. Pauls teen finds RCC fits medical career plan

Robeson Community College recently hosted several summer camps for area school students which were the subject of an earlier Robeson CC Today column. Traffic flows both ways however, as some RCC students left the county this summer to attend programs at other institutions. Two students participated in a science program at UNC Chapel Hill and hopefully we’ll be able to share their story at a later time.

Brianda Barrera, a 2017 St. Pauls High School graduate, Lumberton resident and RCC student is currently participating in a six-week Summer Biomedical Sciences Institute at Duke University. This program targets students whose ethnicity is underrepresented in medicine and who aspire to have a career in a medical profession. The program attempts to simulate the medical school experience for students for the summer. Barrera is currently enrolled in physics, organic chemistry, biomedical statistics, health disparities, standardized patient modules, peak performance, weekly seminars, and weekly clinical experiences taught by the medical professionals at Duke as well as notable faculty from other universities. Duke provides the scholars in the program with countless tools and resources that will benefit them on their journey to medical school.

Barrera will enter her second year at RCC this fall and when not in school or summer programs she works as a pharmacy technician at Brisson Drugs in St. Pauls.

She has a 2-year-old brother and says that the 17-year age gap between them has impacted her life and shapes the way that she views situations. “I include my relationship with him in most of my decision making because watching him grow up is very important to me,” she said.

Barrera says that financial aid issues with the university that she originally planned to attend led her to RCC, but she adds, “It was the greatest thing that could’ve happened. I really do believe that situation worked out for the best. My experience at RCC is greater than I could’ve ever expected. I strongly encourage those looking to further their education to consider RCC.”

When asked why she would recommend RCC to others, Barrera said, “The small classes are great because you form a personal relationship with your professor that you would not have at a larger university. Attending college without all the financial stress is also a major positive. Also, if you are not positive about your future endeavors, the general education courses at RCC transfer to most state colleges. Taking Gen Ed [classes] is a great way to discover which subjects appeal to you the best.”

Barrera plans to finish her associate degree at RCC and transfer to Campbell University to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in Pre-med. From there, she said, “I plan to take a gap year between graduating from undergrad and starting medical school to focus on research and be a more competitive applicant.” Currently, she says her medical interests are in obstetrics and gynecology or dermatology, but she adds, “That is all subject to change during my years of medical school.”

If you would like to start a new career or work towards transfer to a university, contact Robeson Community College’s admissions department soon. Fall semester begins Aug. 15. You can complete an application online at or call 910-272-3342 to speak to an admissions counselor.

Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer for Robeson Community College.

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Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer for Robeson Community College.