100 Years since UNC’s first female med student

Cora Corpening with Second Year Medical Class, 1916 Yackety Yack
Cora Corpening with Second Year Medical Class, 1916 Yackety Yack

The Class of 2018 began its studies at the UNC School of Medicine earlier this month. The class of 180 doctors-to-be is 48 percent female. That’s a far cry from 100 years ago, when Cora Corpening became UNC-CH’s first female med student. According to Gladys Hall Coates’ Seventy-fifth anniversary of the coming of women to the University of North Carolina, the student body voted against admitting her to the school. But Corpening attended classes anyway. And after about a month, she was formally admitted. According to a profile of the Corpening family in the July 17, 1940 edition of The Robesonian, Corpening finished the two-year program at UNC in  spring of 1916 and then completed her medical studies at Tulane University, where she was one of the top students.  “After completing her medical course, she located at Suffolk, Va. and did the work formerly done by eight physicians during World war times,” The Robesonian reported. After serving at Lakeview Hospital in Suffolk, Corpening moved to Virginia Beach, where she worked in private practice. She died in 1984.

The Tar Heel, October 1, 1914
The Tar Heel, October 1, 1914

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