Med students get Packers scholarships
DE PERE - Lauren Thomas wants to be a doctor in a rural community. Ryan Berns is looking forward to working with individual patients and Julia Rose Shariff's love of science led down an unexpected medical path.
Scholarships made possible by the Packers Foundation will help the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay students reach their goals. The grants were announced in 2015, and the first four scholarships were awarded this year.
"I spent a lot of my undergrad studying global health," said Thomas, a first-year student. "I realized these issues are playing out in my backyard. My goal is to be a rural doctor. I'm real excited to be that person for that town."
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The Green Bay campus, which is at St. Norbert College, has 55 students. The school's goal is to admit 25 students per class for the three-year program, though it accepted additional students last year because of the quality of the applicants, said Matthew Hunsaker, campus dean.
The cost of the program is about $50,000 annually, and the scholarships are $5,000 each.
"Any amount of money is helpful in the grand scheme of things," said Shariff, a second-year student who initially didn't plan to pursue a medical degree. "I thought I just liked science."
An uncle who is a physician influenced her decision, as did a realization that whatever she did, she wanted to help people.
Students must apply for the scholarships each year and are selected by a committee that includes community members. That appealed to Berns, a second-year student who was accepted at both the Milwaukee and Green Bay campuses.
"I thought, 'the community wants me up here. You are coming up here as part of the community,'" he said.
The campus attracted Thomas as well. Her father is a physician, too.
"It's crazy just how perfect the program was," she said.
All three were attracted by the three-year cycle, which means they get out of the classrooms and into the exam room sooner.
"We get a lot more hands-on that you wouldn't get elsewhere," said Shariff, a Green Bay Southwest High School and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay grad. "It's unbelievable how much you learn, so soon."
Berns said students work more closely with physicians, as well.
"I have friends in Milwaukee. They are like fifth in line (in a hospital room). Here, we are right next in line to the physician," he said.
The Packers Foundation provides two $250,000 matching grants annually to community organizations. Money is awarded as it is matched. The medical college needs $97,000 more in matching donations to claim all of its $250,000, which is placed in an endowment to fund the scholarships, said Tanessa Klug, director of development for the college.