Monday, April 28, 2014
Dreams Do Come True: Medical Students Honor Donors
Because of donor support, more than 300 medical students are able to fulfill their dreams of becoming physicians.
Written by Suzanna Cisneros
Mbugua received the Bernard Harris, M.D. Endowed Scholarship.
An Opportunity to Give Back
As a young girl growing up in a village near Nairobi, Kenya, Rosalia Mbugua dreamed of becoming a doctor.
“My parents knew of my dream and they encouraged me to work hard in everything that I did hoping that one day, my dream would come true,” Mbugua said. “All I had back then was a dream and prayers. Now I stand before you as a third-year medical student and I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to realize my dreams.”
Mbugua immigrated to the United States after high school and obtained both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing. After working in various clinical settings, she made the decision to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a physician.
“I was filled with deep gratitude and joy when I was accepted into medical school,” Mbugua said. “But I knew with the acceptance came the burden of paying for medical school.”
Mbugua, who is a married and has two children, was one of many medical students who attended the School of Medicine Donor Appreciation event to thank those donors who made her education possible. She received the Bernard Harris, M.D. Endowed Scholarship.
“I cannot thank the donors enough for this,” Mbugua said. “Your contribution to the scholarship fund enabled me and others to focus on our education and worry less about our financial situation. I aspire to help patients and their families to promote health, prevent diseases by fostering healthy lifestyles and by managing their illnesses. Someday I will give back to my community and to medicine because of the love and support you have all shown me.”
Steven L. Berk, M.D., TTUHSC executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, said donors are invaluable to medical students.
“The cost of a medical education should not deter future students from pursuing a medical degree,” Berk said. “We are grateful for our donors and their generosity to the School of Medicine and our students.”
Last year because of donor support, the School of Medicine awarded more than $1,512,000 in scholarships to approximately 303 medical students.
Nichols received the Frank M. Ryburn, Jr., M.D. Scholarship Endowment.
Born and raised in West Texas, Jacob Nichols had a passion for science and medicine early in life. Nichols, who is the recipient of the Frank M. Ryburn, Jr., M.D. Scholarship Endowment, said he knew becoming a physician would be the best choice for him.
“My mom worked as an R.N. in Big Spring, a town of about 25,000, and sometimes it felt like she knew every single one of them,” Nichols said. “Every time we would go to the store or out to eat, people would come up to her and give her a hug, thanking her for taking care of them or a family member. It was because of this I knew I wanted to go into a career where I could help others.”
Nichols, who worked through the Pre-Medial Early Acceptance Program at Texas Tech’s Honors College while obtaining his bachelor’s degree in biology, worked hard to apply to medical school his sophomore year.
“I still remember when my dad called me and told me I had a letter from the school,” Nichols said. “I asked him to open it for me and a few seconds later he told me congratulations because I had gotten into medical school. It was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced.”
Nichols said about the financial costs of attending medical school are quite a burden, but because of the generosity of each donor, students like him are able to lessen this burden while receiving an education.
“It allows us to focus on our studies without the constant worry of how everything is going to be paid for,” Nichols said. “It also is great knowing that so many people are passionate about the education of future physicians and setting such a great example. I believe that friendliness and generosity are some of the greatest aspects of West Texas, drawing in students from around the country, and even other parts of the world.
“I feel that our donors personify these aspects of West Texas, and help people realize what a great place it truly is. These kind acts are always remembered, particularly by those whom they affect the most and I will certainly remember as I enter my career and choose to give back to my school and other future physicians.”
Reynolds received the Richard V. Homan, M.D. Endowed Scholarship in Family Medicine and the James E. Loveless Endowment Scholarship.
An Education That Hits Home
Sydney Reynolds, a fourth-year medical student, was awarded the Richard V. Homan, M.D. Endowed Scholarship in Family Medicine and the James E. Loveless Endowment Scholarship. She also was selected to participate in a specialized experiential learning program at the Betty Ford Center with funding provided by donors Mimi and Jay Bonds. Through that gift, she was one of nine students who traveled to the Betty Ford Center as a part of the School of Medicine Betty Ford elective.
The Bonds wished for TTUHSC medical students to learn more about addiction. During her week at the Betty Ford Center, Reynolds, whose father is a doctor, participated in interactive lectures and came to know many patients and their stories. As students, they were split into three different programs. Reynolds participated in inpatient treatment, which is a traditional rehab facility.
“My father went to rehab when I was 7 years old,” Reynolds said. “I vaguely remember sitting in our living room with my brother and sister, and my parents telling us that daddy would be leaving for three months. My father found sobriety during that time, and has now been in recovery for 19 years.”
Growing up, Reynolds’ parents were open about her father’s recovery. She said she knew the 12 steps and was raised on many of the principles that are taught through Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Watching the acceptance and compassion that my father learned through his sobriety and shared with his patients is what encouraged me to go into medicine,” Reynolds said. “I always felt confident in my sense of compassion towards the addict, and knew that when faced with these issues in practice I would succeed, but I was terribly wrong.”
Reynolds said at the beginning of her third year, one evening at the TTUHSC Free Clinic at Lubbock Impact, she helped treat a 25-year-old heroin addict, four months into his sobriety.
“He was already fragile in his newfound sobriety and now was about to receive news that he was ill,” Reynolds said. “I did not know what to say. That was the beginning of my realization that I knew nothing about the fragile state of sobriety, how to address the alcoholic, how to explain the disease process of addiction or what to look for on physical exam. These were all things we learned at the Betty Ford Center.”
Reynolds said the experience at the Betty Ford Center gave her and classmates many tools that most medical students and residents do not learn through their training. She too thanked the donors who understood the importance of the disease of addiction, and gave her the opportunity for a life-changing experience.
“While we all learned many facts about addiction, I believe we all learned our own lessons that will make us better physicians and better humans,” Reynolds said. “The reason medical school is not spent learning from books is because there is nothing more powerful than the human experience. For the 10 medical students who were given the opportunity to learn about addiction through the human experience, we have been given a gift that will be passed on to the many patients we come in contact with in the years to come.”
Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.
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School of Medicine
Since 1969, the School of Medicine has graduated more than 3,000 physicians. The school aims to provide quality lab space, recruit creative, innovative research faculty, and develop graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for lifelong careers in medical research.
Today, more than 20 percent of the practicing physicians in West Texas have graduated from the School of Medicine or its residency programs.
Beginning in 1969 as Texas Tech University School of Medicine, TTUHSC now is a six-school university with campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa.
TTUHSC has trained more than 10,000 health care professionals, and meets the health care needs of more than 2.5 million people in the 108 counties including those in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.