A determined dental student: Kennedy Hawkins

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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Southside High School senior Kennedy Hawkins is ready for the finer things in life. The future dentist is dual-enrolled at Beaufort County Community College. With her ambition for travel, she will study in Europe during the summer with the college’s study abroad program. She will graduate high school with both an associate in arts and an associate in science.

Hawkins considered attending Beaufort County Early College High School, but opted to stay at Southside High School so that she could participate in activities like marching band. When she discovered that she could still take college classes through Career & College Promise, she jumped at the opportunity.

“When the opportunity arose, I grabbed it,” she says.

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She applied to the North Carolina School of Science and Math and felt let down when she was not admitted, but through an advisor, she learned that attending a community college would be even more beneficial. As it stands, she will start as a junior at the university she attends.

“The community college has been a really helpful bridge to understand how college life could possibly work,” she says. “It’s helped me with time management, scheduling meetings, meeting teachers, and how to enhance my communication between me and my fellow students and the professor.”

She is waiting to hear back from colleges, but has made an early decision for Duke University.

With her interest in dentistry, she is carrying on a healthcare tradition, with her grandmother having worked as a nurse practitioner and her mother working at Philips Respironics and having worked at ECU Health Medical Center. As a child, she had a positive experience with her dentist after suffering an injury.

“Every time I go into the dental office, I smile,” she says. “Other kids are completely scared because they don’t want anyone poking around, but I’ve always enjoyed my dentist and I want to do the same for others.”

With dentistry, her plan is to work with children. “I can take my adrenaline and high motivation and focus it into kids. They are surprising each day so even though my day would be very repetitive, having different types of kids and personalities come in every day to get their teeth checked would definitely keep me going.”

Hawkins is very community-minded and wants to take this commitment to service to her future university. “I tried to do everything I possibly could to help out in the community and in the school to make the best impact that I could, and I want to be able to make my mark on the university as I have at my school,” she says.

She sees what she has and wants to use this to help others. “I am very humbled with what I have and what I’m able to do and knowing that I have the resources and the financial support to help others who couldn’t,” she says.

At the college, she is the Gamma Beta Phi president. She was inspired by the previous president, Katherine Pollack.

“I really looked up to her,” she says of Pollack. “Her motivation and her organization and just how she carried herself was very similar to how I wanted other people to see me.”

At Southside High School, she is heavily involved in clubs, with leadership roles in the Beta Club, Math Club, Skills USA, and she founded the Inner Club Council, an effort to increase coordination among the clubs relating to scheduling and fundraisers.

She has her sights set more urban destinations. On a recent trip to New York City, she went running and cycling through Central Park daily. “The fact that I was able to walk to a coffee shop right down the road, and I felt really safe even though there was everyone around me. I knew that I could protect myself if need be.”

“I just I like the city life. I like being able to dress up and eat. I feel like that’s one thing that can bring everyone together. I am really big on Korean food, and I can do Italian all day long.”

Continuing her exploration of other cultures, Hawkins will travel this summer to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland with Beaufort CCC’s study abroad program. “I think being able to travel and experience the high culture in those different areas while earning college credit was a win-win-win,” she says.

Students take two college classes during her travel. Hawkins is taking the MUS-114 World Music, and they will explore Mozart. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that doesn’t come by everyone.”

Through this trip, her education, and her service, Hawkins always embraces opportunities to help give her, and others, a chance to experience the finer things in life.