Giovanna Ababioh was born and raised in Ghana in a medically underserved area. She witnessed how difficult it was for this community to receive medical care and education on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“In Ghana, I had a situation where one of my cousins needed medical assistance, but we couldn't find transportation. There were no ambulances and the nearest hospital was 30 minutes away. Experiencing that and seeing her desperation and anxiety wrecking my family in providing timely care for her—that sparked the fuel to get a career in medicine to give back and help the underserved.”
Ababioh now lives in Texas and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is a first-year medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). She is one of many students who received a scholarship from the TTUHSC Student National Medical Association (SNMA).
SNMA is one of the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organizations focused on the needs and concerns of culturally diverse medical students. The TTUHSC School of Medicine SNMA chapter participates in various projects including mentoring undergraduate students, promoting health care fields with elementary students, organizing community health fairs, working with the undergraduate community and helping improve medical school curriculum and admissions.
“A Cultural Affair: Scholarship Gala,” is a yearly event local SNMA medical students organize and host. Since 2012, medical students have received more than $130,000 in scholarships.
This year’s gala committee included medical students Briget Hyde, Vighnesh Nair, Rachel Nwaneri, Nkemjika Uke, Dubem Onyejegbu, Noriko Merida-Morales, Brendalyn Iweh, Destiny Anamege and Jessica Solis.
“The high cost of a medical education is an investment for students, but it can be an enormous burden,” said Briget Hyde, SNMA president and second-year medical student. “SNMA is proud to host this event each year to benefit our students.”
The School of Medicine is supportive with their students in motivating and guiding their students to achieve success. Yet Hyde said with the high cost of higher education, SNMA hosts a scholarship gala to help offset some of the expenses. An event supported by Dr. Steven Berk, M.D., TTUHSC executive vice president and School of Medicine dean, and the numerous departments of the school.
“So many have to rely on loans to get through medical school,” Ababioh said. “The SNMA scholarship has helped lower some of the debt and limited the amount of loans I need to take. The SNMA scholarship, definitely helps me stay focused on my studies, instead of where I'm getting money to finance my education.”
Dubem Onyejegbu, a second-year medical student, and historian of the TTUHSC SNMA chapter, said SNMA has been a success for more than 10 years because of the School of Medicine support.
“Thank you to all the donors, our faculty members and students who participated in making this success,” Onyejegbu said. “I just pray that we continue doing this over the years. Our sincere gratitude to every one for making it possible for students like me to forget about the financial burdens of going to medical school and focus on our studies. I want to say a big thank you for helping me and others continue to pursue our goals.”