St. David's Stories

Alumni Spotlight: 2011 Neal Kocurek Scholar Leads Front Line Response for COVID-19

Mere months after graduating, Gubeom Nam found himself in a situation he couldn’t possibly have imagined. Like many others who recently entered a career in health care, he found himself on the front lines of COVID-19 – immediately stepping in to play a vital role as our country responded to the global pandemic.

Nam, who graduated in May 2019 from Texas A&M University Health Science

Gubeom Nam is an alumnus of the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program.

Center, was the first respiratory screener for the Heart Hospital of Austin. As a pharmacist, he has played a key role in establishing the process and protocols for the hospital’s facility, such as implementing new policies in support of physicians and nursing staff within the hospital. His goal? To make it easier for those in direct contact with patients to perform and provide optimal, safe care.

“It’s an ongoing struggle to stop this pandemic, and we’ve implemented additional infection prevention measures for COVID-19 in anticipation of growing cases,” Nam said. “Every day there is a new update regarding COVID-19. We stay alert and prepared for further outbreak around the Central Texas area.”

From an early age, Nam knew he wanted to pursue a career in medicine and was encouraged by his mother, a registered nurse, and his father, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Both instilled a shared passion for learning, education and helping others. As a teen, he often volunteered in various rehab and post-surgery units – including progressive care, the emergency department and the pharmacy – at St. David’s Healthcare, which provided early insight into the field of health care and solidified his passion for helping others. By far his favorite aspect of volunteering was seeing patients leave the facility happy and healthy, which further inspired him to pursue a career in the industry.

Nam’s story came full circle in 2011 when he was awarded the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship – given to graduating high school seniors pursuing careers in medicine, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, biomedical engineering and other disciplines at Texas colleges and universities. Since then, Nam has played an active role within the program and earned two degrees – a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) from Texas A&M University Health Science Center. Currently, he is working in Central Texas.

“St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship was immensely helpful throughout my undergraduate and graduate career, allowing me to network with and gain valuable insight from various health care providers and explore different career options within the health care field before deciding on pharmacy,” Nam said. “I’m forever grateful for the scholarship and constantly remind myself to be vigilant on behalf of the Foundation who put their trust in me.”

Nam is just one example of the incredible commitment being made by front line employees and health care workers daily amid the coronavirus pandemic. St. David’s Foundation is grateful for the tireless work being done in our community and, through the scholarship fund, is committed to continuing its support of the training and education of Central Texas’ future health care workers.

Earlier this summer, St. David’s Foundation celebrated the graduation of 72 Neal Kocurek Scholars. Among this year’s list, graduates have earned 56 bachelor’s degrees, six master’s degrees and 10 doctorate degrees representing 21 colleges and universities.

The St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program currently has more than 300 active scholars from Central Texas pursuing careers in medicine. The program has an impressive 92% retention rate, and many of these scholars have returned as mentors to guide and inspire the next generation.

To learn more about the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program, please click here.

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