When she was growing up, Ungelic Leffall was like most kids. She enjoyed watching television.
But she didn’t have your typical adolescent viewing habits. Her TV remote did not have a default setting to cartoon channels.
“I used to watch the doctor shows and of course everyone who watched doctor shows wants to be in the medical field,” she says. “But for me, it was really when I was in school and I saw a video of a brain aneurysm and I watched it and that’s kind of when I fell for the brain. I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it.
“From then on, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon.”
Now, Leffall is on her way to making her dream happen, with help from the Dallas Mavericks.
The freshman at North Texas-Dallas was one of five recipients of the 2021 Dallas Mavericks Scholarship program, a $25,000 grant that will go a long way toward Leffall reaching her aspirations.
She was nominated for the scholarship through the TRIO program at UNT-Dallas. TRIO is a federal outreach program designed to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress from middle school through higher education programs.
She also was a former participant in the UNT-D Upward Bound program.
Leffall is a Lancaster High School product, grew up in Dallas and has been trying to figure out how to cope with the costs of college.
“It means a lot,” she said of the scholarship. “It’s a huge stress relief to know there’s a support system. My tuition, the last bit was huge for this semester. I was really stressing out – should I get a job?
“So when I found out about the scholarship, it was a huge stress reliever. Because I really want to stay away from debt if I can.”
That’s a smart attitude about finances.
Leffall, 18, has been doing all of her course work at UNT-Dallas online. She’s not the first of her family to reach college. Two of her sisters went to college, but Ungelic is the first one to make it to the second semester.
And, by the way, her mother, who works for the IRS, is responsible for her Ungelic’s unique first name.
“My mom told me she really liked the name Angelic,” Laffall said. “But she heard it so many times. She wanted it to be a little different, so she decided to change the A to a U.”
Leffall is aware that getting a medical-based education is not an easy road to take. She’s already taking Chemistry and Biology, along with the lab classes that come with those courses. That’s in addition to the core classes like English and History.
But she’s determined to make her dream come true.
“I know for sure I want to do something in the neurosurgery field,” she said. “But I am keeping my options available because I know life has a funny way of changing your plans. If I’m not a neurosurgeon, I know my backup plan will be part of the neurosurgeon field.”
In the little free time that Leffall has, she enjoys hiking and exploring. And she’s gotten into baking, although she confesses that her skills in the kitchen are “a work in progress.”
Like a lot of high-school graduates, Leffall is finding that college is a different brand of learning. She said she enjoys learning at her own pace online.
However . . .
“I’m a procrastinator,” she said. “So when I don’t have people telling me to get things done, I tend to put things off. I have to remind myself to work on projects.”
At those times, she falls back on her passion for medicine and the brain.
And she knows she is going to continue to take the steps to get where she wants to go.
“I want this so bad,” she said. “I know I can make it happen.”