WINSTON-SALEM – To hear what a difference education can make in one person’s life, just ask Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes.
In the accompanying video, Dance-Barnes, the interim associate provost and an associate professor of biology at Winston-Salem State University, talks about how she left a small nearby community in Northeastern North Carolina to attend Elizabeth City State University.
“It is one of the reasons why I’m actually teaching at Winston-Salem State. Because the same values that I took away from Elizabeth City – that small, family, nurturing environment, even though it’s a bigger institution – are here,” she says.
After graduating from ECSU, Dance-Barnes went on to get her master’s degree from N.C. A&T State University, then her PhD from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She is the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the medical school in cancer biology and toxicology.
She later became associate professor of cell and molecular biology and co-chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Winston-Salem State.1
Yet despite all those credentials, she doesn’t boast – rather, she overflows with gratitude.
“I’m from Weeksville, North Carolina – a small subset of Elizabeth City,” she says.
“So to think that those small interactions with faculty members that I had so many years ago helped me feel confident enough to step outside of that small area and … think that I could have the audacity to be a professor – and then now, a few years later, I’m interim associate provost at Winston-Salem State….
“It’s amazing,” she says, her voice cracking slightly. “And so my goal is to pay it forward.”