09/12/04 — Winston Garris wins Duke scholarship

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Winston Garris wins Duke scholarship

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on September 12, 2004 2:05 AM

Winston Garris had applied to two medical schools and was waiting to hear back from one of them. As he was driving down the road, his cell phone rang.

He could faintly hear the voice on the line because his window was down. The person was a representative from Duke Medical School with the news that he had been accepted.

"I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me," said Garris. "I about wrecked my car."

He had planned on attending the University of North Carolina and had already made his living arrangements there.

"It threw a little kink in there when I found out about Duke."

The decision was made a whole lot easier when he later received a call from his mother with the news that he had received a Dean's Tuition Scholarship to Duke Med School. It is a four-year, full-tuition scholarship worth about $132,000. Tuition is $33,000 per year. The school only awards seven of the scholarships per year.

"Rumor has it that my father cried when he found out I got the scholarship," he said.

Garris, 22, of Goldsboro, graduated as valedictorian from Faith Christian Academy in 2000. He attended North Carolina State University and graduated summa cum laude in May with a 3.9 grade point average. He received a bachelor of science degree in biological science with a minor in genetics. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Garris said he figured his mother read the scholarship letter wrong and it just said he was eligible. He had not applied for the scholarship and had dismissed the thought of having a chance for it. He is not sure what the criteria was, but assumes a lot depended on how well-rounded the applicants were.

The scholarship has eased a lot of financial pressure. The only expenses he has for school are for books, food, living expenses and insurance. It also takes a lot of pressure off after graduation, having only $30,000 in debt instead of $200,000.

He started school the first week of August with an orientation and then started class. He is taking the equivalent of 26 hours of classes, including 18 hours of lab work. The classes are in Duke Hospital and deal with bio-chemistry, medical microbiology, cell biology and genetics. He has not started seeing patients yet, but is looking forward to using what he has learned and applying it to a real world situation.

Although his class schedule keeps him busy, he still has some free time to work out and maintain a social life. He lives with his sister, T.K., who was accepted to nursing school at UNC-Chapel Hill about the same time he found out about the scholarship. Their mother, Louise, and father, Gene, threw them a party at Walnut Creek to celebrate the big announcements.

Garris said he may pursue a career in ophthalmology after school and would like to stay in the state.