PA Program announces first Primary Care Service Scholarship recipients

Five first-year physician assistant studies students—Jon Kilstrom, Lauren Kelley, Barrett Waldrep, Kate Rabe and Jacob Ayuen—were awarded the first Primary Care Service Scholarship, a $22,000 award made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For physician assistant students like Barrett Waldrep, a veteran combat medic for the United States Army, a $22,000 scholarship will truly help him accomplish his childhood dream.

“My desire to become a PA can be traced to my upbringing in rural north Florida where medical coverage was sparse,” Waldrep said.

After witnessing the death of his grandparents and stepmother due to lifestyle related illnesses, Waldrep decided to enroll in Union College’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies program because he wanted to dedicate his life to prevention education and medical care.

Union announced the first five recipients of the Primary Care Services Scholarship on Thursday, Sept. 15, at a ceremony in the new classroom in the basement of Union College library.

In 2010, Union received a $792,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Expansion of PA Training program, allowing it to award $22,000 to five new PA students over the next four years and to expand the program from 25 to 30 spots in each class. Each scholarship is renewable one time, totaling $44,000.

One of only 28 PA programs in the country to receive the grant, “our program stood out for its clear track record with the underserved,” said Mike Huckabee, Union's PA program director. “Our curriculum is designed to give opportunities to work in locations that lack proper healthcare.”

The PA students work with underserved people in a variety of ways, including at a monthly foot clinic at the Matt Talbot Community Kitchen and clinical rotations at People’s City Mission and in rural medical facilities.

Waldrep reflects these same values of service. “I want my life’s work to be a tribute to God and those who have influenced me in my spiritual, academic and medical ventures,” he said.

Four other students—Jacob Ayuen, Kathryn Rabe, Lauren Kelley, and John Kilstrom—also received the scholarships for the 2011-12 school year.

The PA program also awarded the first PA Humanitarian Award Scholarship to Megan Leveranz, a second-year PA student from South Dakota. The award was funded by two alumni and is given to a student who shows an exceptional desire to serve others.

“This is part of our Christian calling,” Huckabee said. “Our program attracts students truly interested in living a compassionate life.”