Scholarships help medical students achieve their goals

HERSHEY, Pa. — Steven Ma is a first-generation Asian-American with a strong interest in global health. A native of Westminster, California, he joined Penn State College of Medicine's Class of 2020 because of the school’s global health opportunities and its welcoming feel.

His undergraduate degree is from University of California, Irvine, where he volunteered in both Nicaragua and Panama as part of that school’s Global Medical Training organization.

“I really got exposed to the medical field, and more and more I started falling in love with what medicine involved,” he said.

The cost of medical school is a reality that was a potential barrier to pursuing his interest in medicine.

“My parents came to the United States when they were teens,” he said. “Both graduated with only a high school degree. Income-wise, they don’t really have much that they can provide.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges has projected a 90,000-physician shortage by 2025, and while aspiring medical students want to fill that gap, many think twice about a career in medicine when faced with the reality of graduating with debt upwards of $200,000.

Ma received help through the College of Medicine’s scholarship program. He is the recent recipient of the Millie Andrason McGlumphy/Craig Andrason Memorial Scholarship, which was created in memory of Millie’s son, who died in his high school senior year and was planning to attend Penn State.

“Penn State has a special feeling about it,” Ma said. “You know that everybody here actually wants to make sure that the students succeed, and they will do everything possible to make sure that that happens.”

In an effort to make a medical school more accessible for students like Ma, Penn State College of Medicine has started a Scholarship Match Program. The college will match gifts between $1,000 and $2 million, dollar for dollar, during its fundraising campaign, which began in July. Scholarship gifts will be matched until all funds are exhausted.

According to Rachel Moury, director of donor communications and stewardship, increasing scholarship support and access to a premier College of Medicine education is one of the biggest priorities in the current fundraising campaign. The College of Medicine currently has 84 endowed scholarships that support medical, graduate and physician assistant students, offering about $680,000 in educational assistance each year.

“While we are extremely grateful for that generous support, it only covers about a quarter of the student’s actual need,” she said.

About 76 percent of the college’s students apply for financial assistance, but only 30 percent receive scholarship support.

“We know that we have to do better and we have a long way to go to close more of the funding gap,” Moury said.

Learn more about the Scholarship Match Program in this Penn State Medicine article.

Last Updated November 14, 2016