The new "Golden Ticket" Scholarship Program recognizes exceptional osteopathic medical students while addressing the burden student loans place on coming generations of physicians. The five students being recognized tonight have demonstrated financial need and yet are in the top 25% of their class, have unmatched dedication to the osteopathic profession, and are committed volunteers in their local communities.
Daniel Sullivan, a third-year medical student at the University of Pikeville - Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, thought his medical school years would be spent studying, and doing little else. Yet he was elected class vice-president in his first year, and the leadership opportunities kept coming. After being elected as Student Government Association President and serving on the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, "I began to realize how valuable it was to get involved and how much could be accomplished in addition to academics," he says.
Student Dr. Sullivan has received several awards for academic performance while in osteopathic medical school. He serves on several of his school's committees and maintains active memberships in multiple professional societies. His volunteer experience is centered in helping residents his Kentucky community, whether working with the local animal shelter, homeless shelter or assisted living facility.
Linda Dunatov, EdD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, says Sullivan "consistently impresses me with his ideas, his infectious enthusiasm, and his commitment to promoting the academic and professional success and overall wellness of his student constituents."
Eric Goldwaser, PhD, a sixth-year student in Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine's (RowanSOM) dual DO/PhD program, is extremely dedicated to osteopathic research. His PhD primary research interest was in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. As the Research Director of the Camden Community Health Center, he implemented a pilot study on a chronic disease management program targeting hypertension. He also held a one-year appointment as the National Research Representative to AACOM.
Now a third-year medical student, Student Dr. Goldwaser has held offices in both elected and appointed capacities, at the local and national levels, including as vice president his class. "During his academic career at RowanSOM, Eric has consistently demonstrated an inquisitive nature, a great rapport with patients, and a genuine interest in helping others," says Thomas Cavalieri, Dean.
Deborah A. Podolin, PhD, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education, sums it up: "It is no exaggeration to say Eric is an outstanding student, an outstanding scientist, and has a deep commitment to academic excellence and a profound passion for bettering whatever community he finds himself in."
Kortnee Koziara, a third-year medical student at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, was drawn to medicine after her brother was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. As a result, "I was repeatedly exposed to the many difficulties patients and their families must navigate in order to receive medical care, which has deeply influenced my desire to practice pediatric medicine," she says.
"Kortnee is one of our most active student leaders. She hit the ground running when she arrived at VCOM…She is a natural leader with remarkable interpersonal skills and the innate ability to connect with others," says Jan Wilcox, DO, Dean. She is active in the Student Government Association, first as OMS I class representative, later elected as SGA president, as well as the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents. She helped initiate a "big sibling" program at VCOM, pairing incoming students with older student mentors to provide support during their education.
Student Dr. Koziara embodies the principles of osteopathic medicine every day, particularly through her dedication to service. She regularly volunteers at free clinics, school functions and community events, seizing every opportunity to teach people about osteopathic medicine.
"My path to osteopathic medicine stemmed from my constant motivation to better the lives of the people around me," says Ryan Paulus, a fourth-year osteopathic medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine-Dublin Campus (OUHCOM). His goal is to serve as family physician for a rural, underserved community, much like his family physician did growing up. He is one of his school's Primary Care Scholars and is in its Rural and Urban Scholars Program, and serves as Executive President of OUHCOM's American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians' chapter.
This commitment to improving the lives of those around him isn't limited to medicine. He has accumulated more than 150 hours of community service over the last two years of medical school. He helped organize a free health fair in an underserved area of Columbus, Ohio, which has grown over the years to include grant funding and a public education campaign. He also has completed multiple research projects and presentations, both as an undergraduate and medical student.
"Student Doctor Paulus is a campus leader and one of the most well rounded students with whom I have had the pleasure of working," says William Burke, DO, OUHCOM Dean. Lecturer Leah Sheridan, PhD, "Ryan is not only academically outstanding, but is also respectful, kind, patient, inquisitive, generous, and above all, humble."
A fourth-year student at the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, Vanessa Halvorsen attributes her success to her drive, a drive she developed as a child when her mother fell ill: "Watching her search for affordable care changed my point of view on healthcare and what a privilege it was. It helped me to see that the best way I could help my mom and others like her was to become a doctor. Not just any doctor though--one that had all the tools to give the best patient-centered care they deserved. An osteopathic physician."
Student Dr. Halvorsen has emerged as a leader among her fellow OMS IVs, being elected this year as the Student Representative on the AOA Board of Trustees. She also served as her school's SGA president and a representative on the Council of Osteopathic Student Governments Executive Board. She is a dedicated researcher, with several projects ongoing and others recently published in peer-reviewed journals, including the JAOA.
She regularly volunteers in her community, having served as an Ambassador for the American Heart Association and as a tutor for a women and children's center. Associate Dean Don Havins, MD, JD, calls her "an unusually highly motivated and brilliant student… Her social skills and dedication to serving her classmates is only superseded by her intellect and superb time management skills."