Park Profile: Jonina Wrenn ’20

The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force has compiled profiles of Park Scholars, Park Faculty Scholars, and Selection Committee Members designed to give prospective students insight about the Park Scholarships program, the selection process, and how scholars made the decision to join the Wolfpack.

Jonina Wrenn

Name: Jonina Wrenn
Hometown: Tarboro, NC
Class Year: 2020
Majors: Biological Sciences, Concentration: Human Biology
Minors: Nutrition; Health, Medicine, and Human Value
Role within Park Scholarships: Park Scholar

1. Tell us a little more about who you are, your background, and identity.

I like to think of myself as an open-minded, cool-headed person. I love people but I’m quite introverted. I am a biracial woman in science from rural eastern North Carolina and I love every bit of it.

2. What were you involved with on/off-campus? What are you passionate about?

On-campus: Society for Multicultural Scientists, tutor for student-athletes, TA for introductory biology and introductory human nutrition

Off-campus: volunteer at InterAct of Wake County; also involved with YouCanVote

I would say my passion is aiding in the fight against systemic disparities in society, specifically in health care and the environment.

3. Why did you decide to choose NC State and the Park Scholarships program? What interested you the most about the Park Scholarships program as a high schooler?

I chose NC State because the first time I stepped on campus as a 5th grader I felt welcomed, felt like I could call it home, and that feeling never changed. No other campus ever felt like home the way NC State did.

Park Scholarships was even more welcoming to me. The staff, all-woman at the time I was interviewed, were so motherly. Also, the other Park Scholars seemed so nice and I could see myself in them.

What interested me most about the Park Scholarships program as a high schooler was the money. I came from a poor county and no college was affordable for my family. The money wasn’t the only attraction. Knowing Park Scholarships was at NC State was also important. I also was drawn to the enrichment activities Park offered, specifically the Learning Labs.

Jonina Wrenn

4. How did you find out about the Park Scholarships program?

My elementary school AIG teacher and DukeTiP mentor told me about the Park Scholarships program. I told her my parents had been sending me to NC State engineering camps every summer and I really liked the campus and the students who led the camp. She was an NC State alum and her children were currently enrolled at State. She said that they had this amazing full-ride scholarship at State that I should remember to apply for when I became a senior in high school. So, starting at 5th grade, Park Scholarships was on my dream list.

5. In high school, what were you most proud to share in your Park application?

Haha hard question, I can’t even remember. I think at that time I was most proud of my work with my senior class. I was class president and I had organized some events for my class that the school did not offer to us such as getting senior shirts for the first day of school, hosting SAT review sessions, and planning events with my honor society.

6. What fear(s) did you have while applying to the Park Scholarships program? Have you found them to be true?

My biggest fear was that I was not enough, I wasn’t as amazing as the other candidates. Coming from a rural high school with only four AP classes and about 130 seniors in my high school class, I didn’t have an outstanding resume. I knew I had done a lot compared to students at my high school but not compared to students in Wake County or other states.

I have found them to be true in a way. Yes, other students did have more interesting resumes than myself but for what I had available to me, I did just as much and was just as amazing.

Jonina Wrenn

7. What advice might you give a high schooler who is considering applying for the Park Scholarships program?

You are worthy, you are worthy, you are worthy. I wish I had told myself this when I applied. I had such doubt that I would not get the scholarship that I applied the night the application was due and didn’t even know the timeline of semifinalist notifications. I remember I was at church for family night when I got the email for semifinalist interviews. I opened the email and I just lit up, I instantly had a boost in confidence. I remember feeling so special and that all the hard work I had done was starting pay off.

8. Is there a certain pillar that particularly resonates with you? Why?

Character is the pillar that resonates with me the most. I remember when I was applying, I didn’t feel deserving of the scholarship because my resume was not as lengthy and extraordinary as those of other candidates. Well, Park taught me that our character isn’t revealed in our resume; it tells what we have done but it doesn’t show who we really are. People’s accounts of who we are, what we’ve done, the life we lived reveals our character.

9. What do you value most about fellow Park Scholars? What might you hope to see in prospective scholars?

Sometimes we may disagree on societal issues, I have always felt loved and appreciated by my fellow Park Scholars. So many times, while walking through campus letting the world and its problems weigh me down, a fellow Park Scholar will recognize me and say hello, bringing a smile to my face.

In prospective Park Scholars, I hope to see warm, welcoming people. This was the quality of Park Scholars that attracted me to the program.

10. Can you share an important college experience that was made possible by the program?

With the help of a Park Enrichment Grant I was able to go to Peru and work with Centro de Salud Publica. Peru deepened my passion for medicine and aiding others in the struggle for helping minority communities gain access to health care. I also gained a family in Peru; my host family calls me throughout the year to see how I am doing.

Jonina Wrenn

11. What is one thing someone might not know about you as a Park Scholar?

Tough question! I would say most people don’t know how much I love to talk and meet up to eat or get tea. I am very quiet in Park seminar, but I love to talk and hang out. I wish had asked more people to hang out while in college.

12. What have you learned about the Park Scholarships program since becoming a scholar that was surprising or that you weren’t expecting?

I wasn’t expecting the weekly seminars freshman year and the class meetings throughout the years. I did not know we would meet so often, which really helps in creating community. Half of my friends from college come from Park simply because Park ensures that community is created and sustained.