Last week, first term student Eric Pierce was named Trinity School of Medicine's Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient for the September 2017 class.
For some context, the Chancellor's Scholarship is a merit based award open to select recipients of Trinity's Physician, Dean, and President awards. Candidates meeting the academic criteria are invited to write on a topic selected by the faculty. The winner's award ($2,000, $2,500, or $3,000 per term, depending on their initial scholarship), is increased to $5,000 per term. In total, this one scholarship covers nearly 40% of of Trinity's total tuition for the recipient.
We spoke with Eric and Dr. Skelton to discuss the selection process, the sense of responsibility that comes with winning, and what that means for Trinity students and faculty alike.
Eric was born in Thailand but moved to Utah at seventeen and graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology in April, 2017. He admitted he was nervous at first at the prospect of applying, “The opportunity was presented to me, and at the beginning I felt that there were going to be so many other applicants that I thought I wouldn't make it." Having received the award, he acknowledged his amazement and a sense of responsibility, noting, “there’s this responsibility and integrity associated with the Chancellor's Scholarship, so I would like to live the best I can to keep up with the standards Trinity feels I met and in general contribute to the school's good name, that's for sure.”
Trinity’s Chancellor, Dr. W. Douglas Skelton immediately voiced his encouragement of Mr. Pierce, "Of course, as chancellor, I’m honored that this was done in my name,” he continued, “we’ve seen some really terrific medical students receive the Chancellor’s Scholarship and they’re all doing quite well; and I’m sure Mr Pierce, as a doctor of tomorrow, will follow their lead.”
As mentioned above, the Chancellor’s Scholarship is a merit award. Prospective applicants must enter Trinity with a GPA of 3.2 or higher and must submit a three-page paper, the topic of which would have been decided by the faculty review committee. After this paper is reviewed, a determination for the award of the scholarship is made by the committee. Eric wrote on the topic, “Nonprescription Medicines: Benefits and Risks Associated with their Use.”
Chancellor Skelton was happy that this would alleviate many financial concerns for him. “Upon receiving the scholarship,” he affirmed, “students are more free of financial concerns and are therefore more able to focus on their studies. It also allows us to recruit some really outstanding students into the medical school.” This recruitment, he admitted, acts as a spur for other students. “There’s a saying that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats;' strong students elevate the students around them, whether through example of specific help. We're excited about awarding students like Eric for their previous effort, and hope to see more of the same out of them in the future.” One of Trinity School of Medicine's often-stated goals is to provide a viable opportunity for students who otherwise go overlooked by the US and Canadian medical school admission processes. Scholarships like this attract and reward students that can contribute to a culture of success within that goal.
Eric is the fifth recipient of this scholarship award since its inception. To remain eligible for the benefits the it offers, he will be required to maintain a 3.2 GPA and to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 with a score of 210 or higher on his first attempt. Eric was enthusiastic, as expected, "I'm excited, to be honest. There are going to be ups and downs but that’s how life is." Eric compared his philosophy to that of "being like a tree," holding fast against harsh conditions, but also knowing when to sway with the breeze to thrive. He also noted that while, “My academics are something I’ll need to constantly work on, but I would like to contribute to society as well: friends around me, the community, whatever I can, because I believe that wherever I go, when I leave, I want it to be a better place.”
Chancellor Skelton closed the presentation with his expectations of Eric Pierce and all of the past and future award recipients, “I expect Eric to be a consistent, powerful, positive, ethical presence for medicine, for Trinity, and his family and friends.”