New historical marker placed for NC's first female doctor, thanks to hard work of ENC high schooler

Published: Dec. 4, 2016 at 9:25 PM EST
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A new historical marker will be unveiled in Charlotte thanks to the hard work and dedication of a high school student here in the east.

Serena Chu was a 9th grader at South Central High School in Pitt County when she began the project for the 2015 National History Day competition.

Chu created a research-based website dedicated to the life and legacy of North Carolina's first female physician, Dr. Annie Alexander.

"During the 19th century and 20th century, not a lot of females were accepted to become a physician or any other profession, so she worked really hard to get her license and open her own office," Chu said.

Alexander became the first woman to practice medicine in North Carolina in 1885.

"Because she worked with, not only her community, but also people outside of America, I feel like I'm really interested in that too, like helping people from around the world, " Chu said.

Chu entered her website project into regional, state and national competitions, which lead her to nominate Alexander for a historical marker. Two years later, her project has been approved and the historical marker will soon be unveiled.

"I was really excited and honored and happy that her story will be known to more people because I feel like, her life story's really interesting and should be known to more people," she said.

Chu herself hopes to pursue a career in medicine, but her social studies teacher, Jennie Bryan hopes she'll also maintain her love for history.

"I think it keeps students engaged and inspired. As Serena said, she too wants to go into the medical field, although selfishly I hope she keeps a toe in history and doing historical research," Bryan said.

The historical marker will be unveiled at 400 N. Tryon St. in Charlotte on December 20th, the site where Dr. Alexander practiced medicine for more than 30 years. Chu will also be recognized at the unveiling ceremony.

The Highway Historical Marker Program is sponsored by the research branch of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.