As scary and unsettling as COVID-19 may be, for a student such as Kacy Yount, it is proving to be an interesting learning experience. Kacy is a recipient of the Rotary Club of Mocksville, Roy and Ruth Eldridge, and Grady McClamrock, Sr scholarships. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Immunology and is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at The Ohio State University. Her goal is to be part of something that will impact people’s health and lives in a positive way. Kacy spends many hours in the lab doing experiments to benefit her thesis project which is focused on improving vaccines against whooping cough, a respiratory bacterial disease that impacts mostly young children and infants.
When not learning about other areas of research, Kacy shares her own research with the scientific community. She has given talks at the International Symposium on Bordetella in Brussels, Belgium and at the American Association of Immunologists Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. She also recently published her first first-author paper in the journal Infection and Immunity!
Before continuing her education at The Ohio State University, Kacy studied Biology and Anthropology with a minor in Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. Many of her passions from high school such as chorus, backpack buddies, cross country, and volunteering with Dr. Bob Rauch in the Storehouse for Jesus Pharmacy translated into her college club involvement. She was involved in Relay for Life, Women’s Glee Club, Campus Christian Fellowship, and TABLE, a Chapel Hill-based non-profit organization that provides hunger relief and nutrition education to local children.
Kacy worked as an undergraduate researcher in a biology lab where her passion for using experiments as tools to answer scientific questions developed. Her study abroad trip to London proved to be impactful in her education and influential in her career choices. While abroad, she took courses that focused on the history and biology of infectious diseases throughout London’s history. Kacy’s desire to pursue a career in infectious disease research was inspired by the creative medical solutions of Edward Jenner, who discovered vaccination with his vaccine for smallpox; Alexander Fleming, who discovered antibiotics; and John Snow, who pioneered one of the first theories of “germs” to trace a cholera epidemic to a drinking water source.
During her free time at UNC-Chapel Hill, Kacy loved going to basketball games with friends (especially when beating Duke was involved), eating her way up and down Franklin Street, and going to concerts at Cat’s Cradle. Now as she works toward her PhD, she spends her free time baking desserts, reading, going hiking, and spending time with her family by playing board games and cooking together on holidays.
“Davie County is, and will always be, Home to me. It’s a community that has uplifted and supported me, and continues to do so even when I’m not there physically. I will always be grateful to my family, friends, teachers, and mentors for shaping me into the person I am today.”
What advice would you give to a high school senior today?
- Check in with yourself often. Make goals for yourself based on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.
- Learn to give yourself grace when those goals change. Know that no achievement is ever a waste, because all kinds of skills and experience are valuable assets.
- Pursue your goals and believe in yourself, knowing all the while that you have a strong community behind you to provide support and encouragement!