UNC-CH COMMENCEMENT 2017: Joseph Locklear Set to Graduate from Division of Clinical Laboratory Science

Joseph Locklear, a class of 2017 graduate and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, is set to become the first college graduate from his family.

UNC-CH COMMENCEMENT 2017: Joseph Locklear Set to Graduate from Division of Clinical Laboratory Science click to enlarge Joseph Locklear, a Division of Clinical Laboratory Science student, is set to graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill on Sunday, May 14, 2017.

Joseph Locklear, a class of 2017 graduate of the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science, came to UNC-Chapel Hill as a first-year chemistry major, but quickly found his home in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences. Locklear, from Robeson County, North Carolina, sought to apply his enthusiasm for science to a career in health care, particularly in a hands-on program. When he discovered clinical laboratory science, Locklear knew he had the right fit.

"It's practical and science oriented," Locklear said. "It's just something you just know you enjoy."

Locklear, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a first-generation college student, attended Project Uplift as a high school student and learned more about the American Indian Center and the Carolina Indian Circles; both programs helped Locklear find a home outside of the lab. Locklear said the American Indian Center appealed to him because of the familiarity of the community, especially while he lived on a college campus from the first time.

"You're placed in an environment different from where you grew up on campus," Locklear said, "But people are going through similar things. Taken all together, UNC was my calling," Locklear said. 

2017 Division of Clinical Laboratory Science Graduate Joseph Locklear from UNC Allied Health Sciences on Vimeo.

When Locklear researched switching majors, the clinical laboratory science curriculum, goals, and objectives appealed to him. 

"People don't know about careers in the lab," Locklear said, while pointing out the majority of health care diagnoses are made using the results produced in a lab.

Currently, Locklear works at Duke University Hospital in transfusion services. Ultimately, he hopes to work in all aspects of the clinical laboratory and perhaps attend medical school. 

Soon, Locklear hopes to mentor future students interested in pursuing science or health care to show underrepresented minorities what's possible at UNC-CH. 

"I want to show other underrepresented minorities that even though science is hard and competitive, if you work hard at it, you can do it," Locklear said. "It's possible."

As a student, Locklear said he noticed his study habits, such as time management, improved over time. He noted several professors were willing to talk to Locklear and his peers if they had questions or needed advice. 

In 2015, Locklear became the first American Indian at UNC-Chapel Hill to receive the Udall Scholarship because of his interest in native health care. 

"I know my family is proud," he said.

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