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Growing Texas’ Health Workforce

Celebrating the 2021 Graduates of St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program

Published August 16, 2021

Colleagues, Collaborators, and our Central Texas Community,

The dawn of a new academic year is the perfect invitation to reflect back on what we’ve learned from the past year. Without question, our 2021 St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship graduates—like many students across the country—have given the word “resilience” new meaning.

Through a year of substantial challenges—for healthcare professionals and society at large—dedicated students leaned into their strengths and demonstrated remarkable commitment and focus in pursuing their academic achievements, despite the many hardships.

We are proud to offer a scholarship program that creates a community—one which these scholars can call their own long after graduation. Our mentorship program has always been an integral element, with many previous Neal Kocurek scholars returning to guide and inspire the next generation. This year our scholarship community began to feel more like an extended family as our scholars, mentors, and Foundation team came together to offer support, motivation, inspiration and, at times, just a friendly voice during a time when we were collectively navigating uncharted waters.

The class of 2021 graduates are a true embodiment of our program: a diverse group of students who are pursuing careers in a broad range of health professions—from nurses and psychologists to infectious disease specialists and neuroscientists—whose varied paths will play a critical role in advancing our state’s health network.

This year’s class includes 72 bright, committed graduates who, among other remarkable achievements, have:

•  Provided tangible support on the front lines of COVID-19, like Jeanette Lee who worked as an ICU nurse while pursuing her Master’s in Nursing

•  Pursued dual degrees, like Edward Butt who earned his Master’s in Public Health while preparing to begin his internal medicine residency at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston

•  Continued a family legacy, following in the footsteps of Neal Kocurek Scholar siblings like Lucas Whitefield and Mariel Mayhew, along with this class’s sister graduates Emily and Deena Ismail

Looking to the next generation of Neal Kocurek scholars, we will open our application on October 1 and are eager to welcome a new class for 2022. I highly encourage Central Texas high school seniors from Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties to consider applying to our program if they are choosing a Texas university or college and have a passion for a career connected with healthcare.

For more perspective from our graduates, we will soon debut a series of conversations with current and past scholars from the program to share advice and encouragement with future scholars. Stay tuned for more.

To our graduates: you will always have a community of mentors and colleagues to support you, and you will always be part of this family. We firmly believe you will continue to create positive change and impact lives, and we thank you for your commitment to uplift others and help them become even better.

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

Looking forward,

Edward Burger

President and CEO, St. David’s Foundation