Published August 31, 2020
Looking back, what inspired your career path or created a spark that guided your education? Were you influenced by a family member, a role model, a teacher or a doctor? Or perhaps was it a general knack for math or science? Whatever the origin, these influences and touch points are a defining moment toward a specific career path for many. For those particularly interested in helping others, it likely translated into a desire to work in one of the many health-related fields.
Fast-forward to 2020. A global health crisis is wreaking havoc on our world, our country and our local communities. And cases of race-based violence and harassment have set in motion a movement focused on dismantling systemic, unjust disparity against people of color – especially as it relates to equitable access to health care. There has never been a more critical time to support the training and education of Central Texas’ future health care workforce; lifting them up today to make a greater impact on our communities tomorrow.
As one of the largest scholarship programs in Texas, St. David’s Foundation is proud to welcome and support 47 new aspiring medical professionals as 2020 St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholars. Focused on investing in the education of Central Texas youth, the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship provides financial support to high school seniors within Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties pursuing health care careers and attending a university or college in the state of Texas. The scholarship program was created to foster a pipeline for Texas’ health care network across a variety of specialties and has empowered hundreds of graduates from Central Texas high schools to pursue their aspirations of a career in health care.
This year’s scholars represent a diverse group of exceptional students. Each recipient brings his/her own unique experience to their respective program, informed from a variety of backgrounds – from first-generation college students and legacy scholars to medical technicians and young adults balancing both work and school.
In addition to funding, the Foundation is committed to fostering each scholar’s personal and professional growth throughout their undergraduate, graduate and medical curricula. This includes connecting scholars with industry mentors and tutoring programs, educational conferences and social events. The St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program also provides access to mental health counseling, legal and financial services and wellness coaching throughout a scholar’s time in the program.
Since the scholarship’s inception in 2005, more than 600 Central Texas students have received scholarships to pursue health-related careers, many of whom have brought their skills and expertise back to Central Texas. For example, 2011 Neal Kocurek Scholar, Gubeom Nam, has been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in Central Texas at the Heart Hospital of Austin. He notes:
“The 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. 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.”
The St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship program is truly a family and lifelong journey for many of its members and alumni. Since November 2019, dedicated alumni have reinvested in the program by fostering relationships with and shepherding opportunities for the more than 101 current scholars.
Across all its values and guiding principles, St. David’s Foundation is committed to achieving health equity and is dedicated to locking arms with Central Texas to support a healthier today and tomorrow. Past, present and future St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholars are helping to advance change by actively partnering with our neighbors during a time when the need has never been greater.
To learn more about this year’s St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship recipients and program or to get involved, please click here.