As a child, Adam Butler remembers spending days in the hospital.
“I want to give back because I know there’s a lot of kids who were in the same situation I was in,” Adam said.
The student and athlete from Midway High School was born with craniosynostosis, a condition where sections of an infant’s skull form too quickly and don’t developing soft spots for the brain to grow and form. A couple months later, he underwent a craniotomy, where a portion of his skull was removed. The skull did not fill back in, so at 3, Adam had another surgery to finish other areas that did not close completely.
During his childhood years, Adam and his family faced another medical challenge with a mass (abnormal spot) in one of his lungs. For this, Adam spent one of his birthday parties at Duke Medical Center.
“At the age of 2 months and 3 years old, he really didn’t know much about it,” his mother Jacquelyn Butler said. “But whenever he was 7, he was very interested in the care going on around him.”
With treatments, he developed a real liking for doctors who treated him well.
“They made me stay calm the whole time and they really inspired me to do my best,” he said. “Ever since, I always wanted to be a doctor, especially dealing with kids.”
Now, Butler has his heart set on becoming a pediatrician and is ready to accomplish that goal. The first step is being selected to a special program at East Carolina University. He was recently selected as one of four recipients granted early assurance into the ECU Brody School of Medicine. The accomplishment began when he enrolled in the ECU Honors College with about 200 other freshmen. In this program, participants have the opportunity to receive early assurance in different graduate programs.
“I knew I wanted to do something in medicine and the Brody School of Medicine was really popular among the doctors I talked to,” Butler said.
After being one of 115 applicants, Butler was notified in January and participated in a interview session in February, which is only granted to 24 students. Later, he was one of the final four.
“It was sense of accomplishment and also a reliever of stress knowing that when I get into college, I just have to maintain grades and I don’t have to worry about trying to find ways to appeal to a medical school because I’m already in one,” he said.
He faced many medical challenges and stayed positive along the way. Some parents seek his advice for their children going through the struggle.
“They come and talk to me about it and I’m kind of shocked that they look for that kind of comfort from a kid my age,” Butler said. “I tell them that it turns out OK as long as you believe in the power of prayer. That’s what got me through.”
In addition to achieving in academics, Butler was also able to excel in the sports of basketball, cross country and baseball.
“Any opportunity that comes to me, I just try to give it my best effort,” he said. “As long as I give my best effort, I’ll get the best result for each thing.”
That comes with a lot of time management as well.
“He’ll go to bed at 10 o’clock and get up at 3 in the morning to study for tests and things. I don’t even do that coming to work,” said Adam’s father Keith Butler, a farmer by trade.
Keith expressed how his son worked hard during his four years of high school.
“To accomplish what he’s accomplished, we’re extremely proud of him,” Keith remarked.
Keith said his son Adam was also available to help when he needed an extra set of hands. Jacquelyn, Adam’s mother, is equally proud of his accomplishments and future goals. She is currently the director of surgical services at Sampson Regional Medical Center.
“Preparing for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is just like going to school,” she said. “It’s a very rigorous preparation. I’m very excited that he doesn’t have to be faced with the challenge of that stress.”
Adam knows about all of the demands that come with being a medical professional. Jacquelyn mentioned how some of it includes missing out on special occasions such as birthday parties and holidays.
“He seems to be very focused and he’s committed to providing care to the community,” Jacquelyn said. “He sets his goals and he goes after them.”
In addition to school and sports, Adam is also involved in activities such as mission trips with his church, Baptist Chapel Baptist Church. Since middle school, he volunteered with the Salemburg Christian Food Bank
With the end of the school year approaching, Adam is preparing for graduation and is ready for the next step at ECU.
“I kind of look at my children’s lives like reading a novel,” Jacquelyn said. “There’s different chapters in that novel. One chapter is getting ready to come to a close and I’m very excited to see what the next chapter has to offer him.”
Commencement is something Adam is excited about too.
“I’m going to miss all the friends I made at Midway,” he said, “but I’m also excited to branch out, see new things and make new friends too.”
After finishing medical school, Adam would like to become a doctor in a rural community, which may not have the same opportunities or programs as large cities.
“I always wanted to come back to rural health and support that because that’s what I grew up and that’s what I’m used to,” he said. “It’s also a way for me to be an inspiration to a kid in my office.”