On Oct. 1, Meredith M. Price, biochemistry graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one of the valedictorians of the N.C. State Class of 2001, became part of seven centuries of history.
That’s when, as a member of the first class of Gates Cambridge Scholars, she began a year of postgraduate study at Cambridge University in England.
Established in the 1200s on the site of an ancient Roman trading post, Cambridge University lists in its annals the names of John Milton, poet of Paradise Lost; William Harvey, discoverer of the mechanism of blood circulation; Isaac Newton, who established the principles of modern physics; Charles Darwin, theorist of the origin of species; and J.J. Thomson, who discovered the electron. Jawaharlal Nehru, who became Prime Minister of India; Nobel prize-winning biochemists Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins and Frederick Sanger; and Stephen Hawking, theorist of the origins of the universe, are prominent in its history.
At the end of the university’s formidable time line is a notation for the year 2000: That’s when the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, a $210 million endowment to provide scholarships in perpetuity, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, went “live,” enabling 120 inaugural scholars to commence study in England in 2001. In establishing the program, the foundation intended to create a network of future leaders from around the world to address global problems related to health, equity, technology and learning.
Price comes well-qualified to be such a leader. She graduated May 19 with a 4.0 GPA. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Chain and Golden Key, she was also captain and co-MVP of the N.C. State women’s volleyball team.
“There are many things that motivate me,” Price says. “Overall, though, I’d say that my primary motivation is to learn more about the world around me.”
Now, she says, “I am so excited about going to Cambridge because it will allow me to see and experience another culture and to learn about medicine from a totally different perspective than I have been studying it as a biochemistry major.”
Originally, Price, of Ellicott City, Md., came to N.C. State planning to major in the humanities.
“I assumed that I would be a history major, or perhaps go into business. In fact, in high school I avoided taking science classes whenever I could,” she says.
However, soon the university’s offerings inspired her to reconsider science as a career option.
“My freshman year of college, I took several science courses as part of my First Year College curriculum and enjoyed them immensely. When I took biology, I found myself hooked,” Price recalls. “To me, the human body is such a complex and perfectly balanced entity. Majoring in biochemistry gave me the chance to study the intricate workings of our bodies that allow us to survive.”
At Cambridge, she will pursue the Master of Philosophy degree in the history and philosophy of medicine.
“There are many things that I hope to gain from my time at Cambridge,” she says. “I hope that my studies will enable me to look at the field of medicine from a broad cultural and historical perspective. At the same time, I look forward to experiencing a different culture, meeting new people from all over the world, and just enjoying living in a town that has such a rich history. I’m sure I’ll feel like a big sponge while I’m over there — I don’t want to miss a single thing.”
When she returns to the United States next year, Price will begin medical school at Wake Forest University.
“Right now, I am leaning toward specializing in women’s health,” Price says. “I find that there is such a need for physicians who are willing to recognize the special health care needs of women, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. I’m hoping that my experiences at Cambridge will help me obtain a more global view of women’s health care.”