2018 AOF Golden Ticket Scholarship Winner & Finalists

October 8, 2018

The AOF Golden Ticket Scholarship Program recognizes exceptional osteopathic medical students while addressing the burden student loans place on coming generations of physicians. The five students recognized as finalists 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. 

Winner: Nicholas Sullivan, OMS IV

Student Doctor Sullivan believes that DOs have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of their patients. A fourth-year medical student at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCU-COM), he has seized every opportunity to lead, educate, and give back to his community. 

As a volunteer with local organizations, he has tutored children after school, coordinated a program inviting local high school students to experience medical school for a day, and taught inexpensive nutrition options to low income families. He also served as student leader on a recent global health outreach mission trip to Dominican Republic. 

“Of all the students I’ve had the opportunity to work within my 10 years of medical education, Nick ranks among the best of the best in academics, leadership, and commitment…He will be an invaluable asset to the osteopathic profession as he continues to give back to the community throughout his career,” says Schoen W. Kruse, PhD, Associate Dean of Curriculum and Integrated Learning at KCU-COM.

This year, Student Doctor Sullivan was selected as one of KCU-COM’s nine undergraduate osteopathic manipulative medicine fellows, where he taught his peers in manipulative medicine, clinical examination competence, and patient communication skills as well as participated in osteopathic research.

“It’s an incredible honor to have even been nominated by my school, not to mention the selection as a finalist. As humbling as that recognition is, it also serves as a reminder and a challenge to keep going, keep moving forward and bearing the torch of osteopathic medicine in the future.”

After he graduates from osteopathic medical school, Student Doctor Sullivan plans to pursue broad-spectrum family practice. In his words: “Patient-centered care isn’t uniquely osteopathic, as great doctors are everywhere, regardless of degree.  I do feel, though, that my osteopathic education has prepared me well to be the compassionate, patient-focused physician I aspire to be.”

Finalist: Sarah Cottrell-Cumber, OMS IV

Sarah Cottrell-Cumber, a fourth-year student at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), deeply connects with the osteopathic medicine’s “mind, body, spirit” ethos, a connection forged during her first interview at VCOM. “I instantly knew that was where I was meant to be. It was a connection I almost can’t describe. Osteopathic medicine is not only my career, it’s my calling.”

Student Dr. Cottrell-Cumber certainly excels academically. She has earned clinical clerkship honors for all of her rotations and maintains a high grade point average (GPA). She has been nominated twice for VCOM-Virginia’s Student DO of the Year award. Fred A. Rawlins II, DO, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at VCOM commented, “In my many years of writing recommendations, rarely am I able to say that a student will educate her educators. Sarah will rise above the level of her trainers.”

She is a regular volunteer with the Special Olympics and has traveled on multiple medical missions. A committed researcher, she has served as a research assistant on projects, regularly publishes her research, and as a result, is often called upon as a speaker at medical conferences. She is incredibly active in volunteer leadership, serving on the multiple task forces and committees to advance causes important to medical students. 

Student Doctor Cottrell-Cumber’s goal is to become a breast surgeon, an area of surgery where people truly need their mind, body and spirit treated. “That is where I feel I’m supposed to help people the most and continue to make the osteopathic philosophy proud.” The AOF is proud to name Student Doctor Cottrell-Cumber as a finalist for the 2018 Golden Ticket Scholarship. 

Finalist: Stephanie Davenport, OMS III

Student Doctor Davenport credits much of her success to the connections she’s fostered with her family, friends and community: “As a medical student, you focus so much on the books that it’s easy to feel disconnected from your community. When I started osteopathic medical school, I made a conscious decision to connect with a church and my new community, and this helped me find a balance between school and life.”

Now a third-year student at the University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP-KYCOM), Student Doctor Davenport is an established leader and excels in the classroom. She is in the top of her class and received KYCOM honors for all semesters, which is awarded to students with grade point averages above 90%.  She maintains memberships in numerous student organizations, tutored her peers and worked as a teaching assistant. In addition, she is the immediate past president of her school’s Student American Academy of Osteopathy chapter.

“She is one of those students who is an excellent example of student scholarship and student leadership. She is industrious, thoughtful and compassionate,” says Boyd Buser, DO, former Vice President for Health Affairs & Dean at UP-KYCOM

As she moves through her medical school education and training, Student Doctor Davenport hopes to maintain these important connections and to continue giving back to her community. “I took the long way to medical school, and some might have doubted it, but to be recognized now for being the top of my class and doing what I love is a huge honor. I hope I can continue giving back to the profession I’ve always had a passion for and look forward to having a positive impact on future patients.”

Finalist: Gregory R. Liller, OMS II

Student Doctor Liller, a second-year student at the Ohio University – Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), had to overcome many challenges to get to where he is today. Growing up very poor and largely on his own, he worked three jobs to put himself through college and continues to pay his own way through osteopathic medical school. Of being selected as a finalist, he says “This recognition after all the hardships I’ve been through is a really big honor. It proves that no matter what background you come from, you can succeed, if you put your nose to the grindstone.” 

Student Doctor Liller is a leader, both academically and among his peers. He’s in the top majority of his classes. Active on his campus, he founded the Radiology Club and recruited nearly one-third of his classmates to join. He is a member of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) as well as numerous clubs at OU-HCOM. He is also a regular volunteer in his community, coordinating meal donations at Ronald McDonald house and other projects.

Student Doctor Liller cites the familial atmosphere of OU-HCOM as a key factor in his many successes: “What drew me here was the honesty of the students and how much they enjoyed their school. They really foster a good learning environment. I also interviewed at MD schools but I didn’t get the same feeling – it really is true that COM is like a family.” After graduating from OU-HCOM in 2021, Student Dr. Liller hopes to pursue the specialty of interventional radiology, a goal cemented by his recent summer research project at Cleveland Clinic focused on interventional oncology.

Jeff Benseler, DO, associate professor of radiology at OU-HCOM, calls Student Doctor Liller “a credit to the osteopathic profession…I am confident that he will make meaningful contributions to our profession for many years to come.”

Finalist: Starr Matsushita, OMS IV

Student Doctor Matsushita is a fourth-year student at the A.T. Still University - School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA), where she excels academically and is extremely active in community outreach, research, education and service. She was selected by ATSU-SOMA for its undergraduate osteopathic fellowship program, which includes teaching her fellow students. She was recently recognized by the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association as the distinguished medical student of 2018. 

“Quite simply, Starr is one of the most impressive medical students I’ve had the pleasure to work with,” says J. Aaron Allgood, DO, Chair and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at ATSU-SOMA. “She is the upmost professional, insightful, and engaging student, which makes her an excellent role model for her student peers.”

Her commitment to osteopathic medicine is unwavering, particularly her interest in increasing access to osteopathic care for the underserved. She led an OMM clinic at ATSU’s annual Community Health and Wellness Day and arranged for the donation of an OMT space in a Phoenix homeless clinic. She also led and developed an OMM curriculum for community health workers in rural Peru and Uganda.

“I didn't fully consider being a doctor until I discovered osteopathic medicine,” says Student Doctor Matsushita. “I saw that not only was this a profession that promised to do no harm, but it was also guided by a deeper philosophy that focuses on all the aspects of patient wellness.”

Winning this award will help Student Doctor Matsushita continue to promote the practice of, and access to, osteopathic medical care. “I feel honored to be recognized by the AOF. While I didn’t take on leadership to win an award, this recognition serves as validation to spur me to continue and expand these acts.”

Nicholas Sullivan, OMS IV, Winner
Sarah Cottrell-Cumber, OMS IV, Finalist
Stephanie Davenport, OMS III, Finalist
Gregory R. Liller, OMS II, Finalist
Starr Matsushita, OMS IV, Finalist