The School of Osteopathic Medicine’s Student DO of the Year Selection Committee announced Edwin McCray as the 2022 Student Doctor of the Year (SDOY). As the recipient of this award, Student Doctor McCray was also the school’s nominee for the American Association Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s National Student DO of the Year Award.
“We are looking for the whole package,” said Dr. Bonnie Brenseke, chair of the SDOY Committee. “We’re looking for someone who has shown dedication to their community, participated in community outreach, someone who’s shown dedication to the osteopathic medical profession … there is no doubt that the winner of the Student Doctor of the Year should be Edwin McCray.”
Faculty members and fellow medical students, many of whom commented on McCray as a great mentor and role model, echoed these sentiments sharing that McCray was an extremely well-rounded candidate. Along with dedication to the osteopathic profession and commitment to community service, the SDOY committee also looks for students who have excelled in areas of leadership, professionalism and the embodiment of the Osteopathic Philosophy.
Student Doctor McCray is passionate and very dedicated to neuroscience. Referred to by the SDOY committee as a “true student researcher,” McCray has 16 publications, 14 articles submitted or in progress, 6 abstracts, and 14 oral or poster presentations. He was accepted as a research fellow for clinical neurosurgery at Duke University where he worked with a multidisciplinary team on a major ongoing project to enhance wellness for oncology patients post-spine surgery.
Neurosurgeon Rory Goodwin, MD, PhD, from Duke University commented, “I have worked with Edwin for a year and a half. I can confidently say that he is in the top 5% of all medical students I have ever interacted with … he possesses the intellect, work ethic, dedication, and personality to be successful.”
McCray was awarded second place for the Neuroscience Education Institute Max Young Investigator Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of neuroscience. He continued his academic pursuits on away rotations during his third and fourth year and was honored with the American Society of Clinical Oncology- Conquer Cancer Medical Student Rotation for Underrepresented Population Award and the Visiting Medical Student Diversity Scholarship from the Mayo Clinic.
Eddie is passionate about helping other students get involved in research and often invites them to collaborate with him on research projects while also advising on research best practices. He also serves as a mentor to eight medical students.
“Eddie serves as a mentor and role model to many of his peers here at CUSOM. Whether it be general questions regarding pre-clinical education or guidance with career planning, Eddie always goes above and beyond to better, those around him,” shared Tripp Atkinson, MS-I. “When I was unexpectedly forced to take a medical leave of absence, Eddie took it upon himself to ensure I had opportunities for professional growth during this time. His willingness to share his knowledge and personal experiences is invaluable to his peers.”
Edwin has shown strong leadership and commitment to community as a Campbell student, but his passion for serving others was evident even before joining the Campbell Family. While in undergrad at UNC Wilmington, he served as the Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity Chair of Community Service Committee and organized events to help with environmental clean-up in Wilmington. He served alongside other pre-med students to provide basic medical and dental care to the underserved and underprivileged communities in Lima, Peru, during a week-long medical mission trip with the organization MEDLife. They also worked to develop safe spaces in the communities, with a focus on earthquake retention walls and cement staircases in the mountainous neighborhoods.
His leadership and dedication to helping others continued in medical school. Edwin volunteered as a medical screener and counseled patients on their 10-year cardiovascular event scores at the Umoja Free Clinic and Health Fair. While serving at the Dunn United Ministerial Association Food Pantry, he vaccinated over 100 community members against COVID-19 and mentored these individuals on vaccine and virus-related questions. McCray also served as the Liberty Hospice Medical Student Volunteer Liaison throughout medical school until the start of COVID to train and recruit incoming medical student volunteers to work with terminally ill patients along with this organization. Additionally, he was awarded the TOUCH (Translating Osteopathic Understand into Community Health) Award, Gold Level in recognition for 337 hours serving others in the community.
Edwin has a deep connection with Campbell’s mission of serving rural and underserved areas. Growing up as an African American in an underserved North Carolina community, he has a strong passion for helping youth from those areas receive top guidance and support through their academics. In 2019, he mentored high school students as a volunteer for the National Youth Leadership Forum, as a career guidance panelist at New Hanover High School, and as a project mentor to a member of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Currently, as a board member of the Adventist Community Restoration Center, Edwin spends time weekly benefiting underserved areas in his hometown by providing resources for food, housing, education, and financial support for families in need.
McCray has held several leadership positions in various groups throughout his medical school career. He served as Treasurer of the CUSOM Student Interest Group in Neurology, a Project Manager for the Medical Student Neurosurgery Training Center, and is the co-founder and President of the Neurosurgery Education Research Group (NERG), a group focusing on education, research and mentorship in the field of neurosurgery. Edwin also served as Vice President of the American Medical Student Association as a student at UNC Wilmington.
“I am very excited for SD McCray’s accolades and future career as an osteopathic physician,” reflected Dr. David Tolentino, associate dean for clinical affairs. “His hard work, including his dedication to scholarly activity, have certainly paved the way for such great honors and opportunities.”
Student Doctor McCray was honored and recognized at a reception in early February. He took a moment to share some personal comments and reflection after accepting his award.
“This award is a great honor to me,” said McCray. “This is the highest achievement I’ve ever had. Coming from a difficult start in undergrad and trying to turn my career around, this really shows me that with dedication, intention and hard work – you can achieve anything. I have become a role model for many people and if I continue to strive and work hard to reach my goals, then I can accomplish anything. And I hope that I can show other people that they can do the same.”