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Meet a new Tar Heel: Jayla Cobbs

A Junior EMT since she was 14, incoming first-year student Jayla Cobbs is joining the Carolina community to go deeper into the world of medicine.

Jayla Cobbs

Jayla Cobbs has been watching the COVID-19 pandemic with interest.

The incoming first-year student from Whiteville, North Carolina, has long wanted to be a doctor, and as she sees the impact of health care heroes — like her mother and grandmother, who are both nurses — on the world around them, she can’t wait to get that path started at Carolina.

“I’ve volunteered with emergency medical services as a Junior EMT since I was 14 years old,” she said. “My mom and grandmother are nurses, and I know how selfless you have to be to work in health care, especially right now. This has not only made it clearer to me that I want to be a doctor, but it’s also made me more excited to be pre-med at Carolina because it is one of the best schools to train for a health care career.”

As a Junior EMT, Cobbs said she learned more about health crises than some would expect. She can take vital signs, help patients safely onto stretchers and into the ambulance. She’s seen life-threatening injuries and accidents, different stages of diseases, individuals experiencing heart attacks.

Cobbs has seen the way some have relied on — or ignored the advice of — health care workers during the COVID crisis. It hits home for her that doctors and nurses are committed to saving lives, no matter what, and that awareness solidifies that career choice for her.

“When you’re on a health care team, there’s so much going on in the world around you, but the only thing that matters is what you’re doing,” said Cobbs. “It doesn’t matter what someone looks like, how much how much money they have or don’t have — when someone is in danger, you need to help them.”

From the start of her junior year at West Columbus High School, she was also enrolled at the nearby Southeastern Community College, from which she’s already received an associate degree.

Her prior experiences in health care have her looking for a major at Carolina that will help her go deeper into the world of medicine, she said, which is why she’s interested in pursuing a medical anthropology major.

“I learned to have higher standards and push myself, because in college classes, they expect more from you. I’ve heard so many good things about the anthropology department and why it’s a good fit for someone on the pre-med track. I’m excited that medical anthropology can be a way to study biology, the human body and the human condition in ways that go deeper.

“I’m ready to be on campus, to meet my classmates and see how we can push each other and what we can learn from each other during our time together.”