By Megan Alley
Twelve area high school seniors were presented with scholarships during the Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital Physicians’ Scholarship Awards luncheon held May 3 at the hospital.
Maggie Block, of Amelia High School, Alissa Burns, of New Richmond High School, Gabrielle Crooks, Mariah Harville and Karisa Schock, of Goshen High School, Paige Cummins, of Felicity-Franklin High School/Grant Career Center, Bethany Grayless, of Eastern Brown High School, Bayley Johnson, of Georgetown High School, Katie Mounts, of Bethel-Tate High School, Jessica Shafer, of Clermont Northeastern High School, and Kyle Smith, of Milford High School, were each presented with $1,500 to be used towards their studies in medical fields.
The hospital’s medical staff, according to Dr. Larry Graham, chief of staff, exclusively supports the scholarship fund.
“All the doctors in the hospital pull our money together,” he said.
The hospital has presented scholarships for the past nine years, according to Graham.
“Mercy really wants to give back to the communities because our hospitals are located, not downtown, but in subdivisions. So, for us, it was just part of a way of giving back to the communities,” he explained. “The decision was made to help support the kids and their academics.”
The selection process starts in January, when the hospital sends information packets to all the high schools in the surrounding counties, including Clermont and Brown.
“We talk to the school counselors, and most of them, because we’ve been doing it for awhile, anticipate the packets coming,” Graham said.
Forty-two students applied for a scholarship this year, whereas in years past, as few as 12 have applied, Graham explained.
“In some years, we’ve only awarded, sometimes, four or five scholarships, but because of the number, and I would say the overall quality of the applications, we gave many more scholarships this year,” he said.
He added, “We expanded the amount because they did such a good job.”
In selecting the winners, which is done solely through an application process without interviews, Graham looks for well-rounded students.
“I think the field this year is a good demonstration of that; we have folks going into nutrition, some are going into nursing, some are going on to be doctors or physical therapists,” he said. “They’re all different aspects of the health care industry, and that’s really what we’re looking to do.”
He added, “And they’re all good students; academically, they’re always stellar, but for me, sometimes, it’s about how much community involvement, the letter they write and the passion they bring into the situation.”
Crooks, who is planning to double major in psychology and business at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, was very excited to be selected.
“Given my majors, I didn’t know how they would view it, compared to somebody who’s going to be a doctor,” she said.
Crooks hopes to earn a doctorate in medical psychology; she wants to open her own practice and form a nonprofit organization that provides free counseling to people who affected by natural disasters.
“Not a lot of people pay attention to the mental damage that comes with an event like Hurricane Katrina; there’s so much structural damage, but we need to take time to help the people cope with what they just went through,” she explained.
Crooks’s career plans correspond with the intended outcome Graham has for the recipients.
“I like the concept of paying it forward; I like the idea of, hopefully, instilling in some of the students the idea that you can give back to the community,” he said. “That’s one of the goals, is to create that kind of philosophy.”
He added, “Obviously, they’re all going to do well in their fields, so I’m sure they’ll all be able, in some capacity, to do that.”