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Orange County original: Vaccine developer Corbett comes full circle with day named in her honor

On Tuesday, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Hillsborough native who helped develop the Moderna vaccine, spoke about coronavirus.

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Lora Lavigne
, WRAL Durham reporter
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Kizzmekia Corbett was always a go-getter, her grandmother, Margaret Brooks, said. She ignored the subtle racism she faced and kept her focus on success.

Corbett spoke Tuesday at the Orange County 23rd Annual Ag Summit, and was honored last month when Orange County marked Dr. Kizzy Corbett Day on Jan. 12.

She began her speech with a self-deprecating reference to another COVID-19 hero.

“Hey everyone. You may have seen me all over the news with Dr. Fauci,” Corbett said as she launched into a 10-minute explanation of the virus she's been studying and the Moderna vaccine on which she worked.

It's a day that Brooks, cautiously, said she always believed would come.

"It’s been hard for Kizzie, but she made it," Brooks said. "But there’s much more out here she can do. She can be a role model for other Black girls ... because she knew what she wanted to do and she went for it.”

Brooks said Corbett always had a plan. "A little girl here from Hillsborough. ... She has worked hard to get where she is, very hard."

Corbett graduated from Orange County High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the National Institute of Health's lead scientist for coronavirus vaccine research.

Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Anthony Fauci have both praised Corbett for her coronavirus research and contributions.

"Oh I am so proud. I’m getting cold chills now. I am so proud of Kizzie," her grandmother said.


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