Morsani College of Medicine Alumni Society

Ethan Song, MS4, shares his personal reflections on the value and meaning of scholarship

November 13, 2020 12:19 PM By USF Health

Ethan is a 4th-year student in the SELECT Program who plans to pursue a career in Plastic Surgery. During a recent virtual meeting with alumni donors to the Class of 1989 Roy H. Behnke scholarship, he spoke about the many stressors and expenses that medical students face that go beyond the challenging curriculum and cost of medical school tuition. What if you still carry significant undergraduate debt in addition to taking more loans for medical school? What happens when your car breaks down or you have an amazing opportunity to travel and present cutting-edge research but don’t have the necessary cash to cover the cost? Or you have a chronic medical condition that requires expensive medication and co-pays on top of the premiums of health insurance? The pressures of life in addition to the rigors of medical school can be suffocating, especially when there is not enough financial “breathing space.” Ethan has faced most of these dilemmas and is sure that his classmates face similar challenges. 

While he finds it hard to fully articulate how much it meant to him to receive this and other scholarships, his story and his simple thank you during that meeting with alumni came across with such emotion and heartfelt gratitude. We all saw it and felt it. With the additional support of his scholarship, Ethan was able to travel to Europe for the first time in his life to present his research on survival in elderly esophageal cancer patients, a trip that left a lasting impact on him. The lasting support for his research passions has motivated him to pursue a career in academic medicine with the hopes of making an impact on the greater community. Furthermore, as a patient with a chronic medical condition, he is grateful that having access to scholarship dollars has offset some of his healthcare expenses without requiring additional loans. Ethan is not alone in his gratitude. The support of scholarship has also relieved some of the burden his parents face in trying to support not only him as he pursues his dream, but also his younger brother who started college this year. If you want to know more about Ethan’s amazing story, click here  to read his prize-winning Alpha Omega Alpha essay.

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