A friend of a friend-Sylvia Johnson – Jay Sibbett-June 11

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for June 11, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

On June 9 our university had a very special evening by hosting our Retiree Celebration. This event honored the twelve UNC Pembroke employees who will or have retired in the last twelve months. Those twelve individuals have worked at UNCP for a total of 279 years. That averages out to over twenty-three years per employee.

I have a friend and former student who was impacted in a great way by one of the retirees. His name is Dr. Jay Sibbett. Jay graduated from Michigan State University Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program in 2013. His medical specialization is emergency medicine and he received his undergraduate degree from UNC Pembroke.

Photo of Jay during his visit to UNC Pembroke in summer of 2013 (l-r) Dr. Jay Sibbett and Dan Kenney

Dan and Jay Sibbett

A non-traditional student, Jay  served in the Army before returning to school to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. When he arrived at UNCP he was married and money was needed for school. He read about the David Parke Scholarship and he felt he had something in common with the who the scholarship honored,”Jay was quoted as saying. “Mr. Parke was serving his country in Korea when he went missing in action. “I read that he wanted to go to medical school, and so do I,”

A complete description of the David Parke Scholarship awarded at UNC Pembroke is found below:

This scholarship was established in memory of David D. Parke. Mr. Parke was a pre-med student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, when he was drafted into the service during the Korean War; he was listed as Missing in Action in 1952. North Carolina residents or military-affiliated students enrolled in their junior or senior year of study with the intention of pursuing a health career are eligible to receive this renewable award.

Jay was guided into medical school by one of the retirees at UNC Pembroke Ms.Sylvia Johnson. Jay considers her an important influence and friend.

The Friend-JAY SIBBETT-depicted back row far left


The Friend of the Friend-SYLVIA JOHNSON

Sylvia Johnson

UNC Pembroke Medical Godmother

The word “Godfather” is some contexts refers to powerful leader. Well if that definition can apply to godfather than godmother is a term I would use to describe Sylvia Johnson. Sylvia retired in 2014 from UNC Pembroke after working at our university for 33 years. Her job title was Director of North Carolina Health Career Access Program (HCAP). What her real title was “godmother” to any student who wanted to pursue a career in health or medicine.

She mentored, nurtured, guided, inspired, cajoled, and sometimes scolded students who wanted a health related career. One of those students was Jay Sibbett. Jay was just one of hundreds. Sylvia was a powerful leader because she helped students better themselves. The picture below show groups of students at UNC Pembroke she worked with each year. They were not just her students but her extended family.

Sylvia 4

Sylvia 3

Sylvia 1

She has former students that are doctors, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, physical therapists, and physician assistants just to name some of the careers. She was instrumental in being part of UNC Pembroke getting an Early Assurance program for our students to be admitted to the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

What was really special about Sylvia’s career was at her retirement celebration on June 9th her children established a scholarship to assist future students at UNC Pembroke that want health related careers.

The “Godmother”  Sylvia Johnson may not work at UNC Pembroke any longer but her legacy is not over.


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