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Oriana Wright

Oriana Wright recently received the Ed Christman Award, which is given to a student who shows significant dedication to community service during their years at Wake Forest. Over the past four years, Oriana has embodied the spirit of Pro Humanitate through her commitment to Campus Kitchen. After graduation, she will return to Texas to attend medical school.

Q: Describe your research work. 

A: I had the phenomenal opportunity to work on a cognitive function and brain networking project with Dr. Christina Hugenschmidt at the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. This experience gave me tremendous insight into the role of research in modern medicine, including the absolute necessity of patience and persistence. The reality of research is that it isn’t always smooth sailing and at times the glitches in the road can seem insurmountable. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Hugenschmidt for serving as such a great resource and role model and for helping me navigate the world of undergraduate research.

Q: What extracurricular activity did you enjoy most and why?

A: I got involved with Campus Kitchen as a first-year student and was shocked to learn that Winston-Salem had such high rates of hunger. I couldn’t comprehend that the community struggled with such a problem. After being involved with service in high school, I knew that Campus Kitchen was an organization that I needed to be a part of. What I didn’t know was what a profound impact the organization would have on my Wake Forest journey. For one, I got to know leaders and volunteers from every niche and corner on campus. Even more impressive than my peers were the community members that I have gotten to know in my four years serving with Campus Kitchen. I finished every shift convinced that I had gained much more in insight, perspective and perseverance from them than we could have ever provided in return with the meals delivered. I look forward to drawing on my Campus Kitchen experiences in the future as a physician to best understand and care for patients from backgrounds different than my own.

Q: Who were your mentors? Your biggest cheerleaders?

A: The most influential people in my Wake Forest journey have been my closest friends. I want to thank them for keeping me sane through the challenges faced, for being a second family that I could turn to at literally any hour of the day or night, for celebrating accomplishments together, and most importantly for pushing me to grow and become a better person than I was when I stepped foot on this campus as a freshman. I am tremendously grateful for each one of these friendships and the profound impact they have had on these last four years.

Q: What shared values do you feel unite the Wake Forest community?

A: The spirit of Pro Humanitate is truly embodied by the whole campus community. Wake Forest’s annual large events such as Project Pumpkin and Hit the Bricks are so treasured and supported by everyone that they essentially become campus holidays. And then when the actual holiday season does come around, there are events like Campus Kitchen’s TurkeyPalooza, where hundreds of individuals from across campus prepare and deliver 400 scratch-made Thanksgiving dinners to members of the Winston-Salem community. From the big events to the smaller daily efforts, the spirit of serving one another has successfully infiltrated our entire community and left us all the better for it.

Q: What is the best advice you can give an incoming first-year student?

A: Looking back at all of the courses I have taken, I am now realizing how much easier my life would have been if I had poked my head into professors’ offices from time to time. In addition to being some of the brightest individuals in their fields, every professor here wants to get to know their students and build relationships with them. Even if you have absolutely zero questions about the material, swing by, drop in, say hello. It’s really easy and will make a huge difference.