A.T. Still University (ATSU) celebrated student recipients of its Graduate Health Professions Scholarship (GPS) with white coat and pinning ceremonies during February’s ATSU Board of Trustees meeting.
Created for historically underrepresented groups, ATSU’s GPS program is a targeted approach to attract and educate students whose life contributions and experiences are consistent with ATSU’s mission to serve in underserved areas.
The event recognized those students, who each shared a bit about their experiences and plans. First-year students received their white coats, while second-year students received their GPS pins.
Second-year GPS Scholars included ATSU-Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) audiology student Casya Hickman-Jones, ’23; ATSU-ASHS students Jillian Masciola, OT, ’21, W. Tenneh Massaquoi, PA, ’21, and Itzel Jimenez, DPT, ’22; and ATSU-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) student Trisha In, D2.
Massaquoi, who immigrated from Liberia, said she wants to one day give back to underserved communities and help them find clarity, education, and understanding of the healthcare system.
“I am so proud to be a GPS Scholar,” Massaquoi said. “The scholarship has done a lot for my life. It has given me connections and opened my eyes to the needs of the underserved.”
In grew up in a single-parent household and said there were times her family didn’t know if they’d have a roof over their heads. When she was 9 years old and had a dental emergency, the family wasn’t able to access necessary care.
“Being a part of ATSU means a lot to me because it gives me the opportunity to form valuable connections and give back to my community, and form deeper connections in global and public health,” In said.
First-year GPS Scholars included ATSU-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) students Noel Balli, OMS I, and Alejandro Castañeda, OMS I; and ATSU-ASHS students E. Yvette Duarte, OT, ’22; S. Brandon Garcia, PA, ’22; and Joanna Perez, DPT, ’23; and ATSU-ASDOH student Jonathan Sorsok, D1.
Balli, from Tucson, Arizona, was encouraged to apply to ATSU by a mentor.
“I really love giving back to the underserved,” Balli said. “I plan on doing a lot of volunteer work. I really look forward to representing the school.”
Castañeda, who was born in Mexico, came to the U.S. with his family at an early age. His brother developed cancer as a teenager and the family struggled to access quality and affordable care.
The experience helped steer Castañeda’s path, and ATSU’s mission aligned with his goals.
“I really became motivated to pursue medicine so I could some day in the future be able to go back to where I grew up, where my family still resides, and provide healthcare services,” Castañeda said.
Clinton Normore, MBA, vice president for diversity & inclusion, thanked ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, ’84, and the Board of Trustees for their continued support and commitment to the GPS program.
Those interested in donating to the GPS program can do so at giving.atsu.edu/support-GPS.