Alumni Association scholarships help those who will someday help others

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UNMC med student given scholarship to help her achieve her dream

Have you ever had a dream, and the only thing standing in your way was how much it would cost?

What if you received a scholarship to help with this financial burden, and it allowed you to become one step closer to this dream?

For UNMC med student Mariah Smith-Miloff, who was raised on a Native American reservation in Montana, receiving a scholarship from the UNMC College of Medicine Alumni Association has allowed her to do just that.

Growing up, she saw firsthand how sparse access to health care was. It made her recognize the value of receiving medical care.

“I always dreamed of being able to one day take care of the people within the community,” the fourth-year med student says.

The College of Medicine Alumni Association has supported the dreams of students like Smith-Miloff since 1987. This year, the board increased the amount of scholarship money. So the alumni are helping even more students.

Before this year, the alumni group gave six to eight scholarships, at varying amounts. After hearing from students about how important scholarships were to them, the alumni association board increased that number to 16 scholarships at $5,000 each.

For each recipient, that would mean four scholarships, each covering the four years in medical school.

Dr. William M. Lydiatt, professor and vice chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at UNMC, says he and other alumni have walked in the medical students’ shoes so they know the difficulties medical students face.

They know scholarships can make students’ lives a little easier.

“The most important thing we focus on is their future and what a unique opportunity a person has in medicine and the amazing rewards that come your way as a physician,” Lydiatt says. “It allows you to access some of the most important times in a person’s life.”

Second-year med student Jared Houck is grateful, too.

“Medical school is so mentally and physically taxing,” he says. “Not having to worry as much about financial burdens is a blessing. On top of peace of mind, it frees me up to be the best student I can be without having to worry about logistics more often than necessary.”

The scholarship reminds third-year student Ben Huebner about what he is working toward.

“The recognition of my hard work through this scholarship is as important as the financial benefit,” Huebner says. “This scholarship reminds me of the duty and privilege that comes with being an alumni and a physician.”

The alumni association supports students throughout their years at UNMC. They do this in a number of ways – from supporting the building of the Sorrell Center to hosting the White Coat ceremony to providing grants for student-oriented projects such as the SHARING Clinic and the Match Day Celebration.

Dr. Lydiatt says he and the other alumni are committed to helping students and supporting education.

“It is because of the generosity of alumni that they are able to provide these scholarships to students,” he says. “It’s not the board or any one board member, but the collective goodwill of the alumni association that makes this possible.”

Support for students is a priority of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you also would like to help UNMC med students, please give online or contact the foundation’s Meg Johnson at 402-502-4107.

Jessica Sorensen, a public relations intern at the University of Nebraska Foundation, wrote this story. Sorensen is a senior in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She has studied four years of Spanish and volunteers at the Animal Humane Society.

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