CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Last April, Austin Peay State University student Stella Pak received an email on her cell phone. She was sitting with friends outside the Morgan University Center, helping with a bake sale for the APSU Women’s Leadership Organization, when she glanced at the message. A moment later, she almost fell out of her chair.
“I was so excited,” she said. “Words just can’t express the boundless gratitude and excitement I was feeling at that moment.”
The email, from the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine, informed Pak that she was the recipient of the College’s 2013 Presidential Scholarship – a merit-based award that will pay her full tuition to medical school. The award is given to only one student a year.
The news was a bit shocking because it brought her one giant step closer to fulfilling a lifelong ambition. Six years ago, Pak left her home in South Korea with the goal of becoming a doctor of family medicine. To achieve that goal, she decided to enroll at APSU.
“I chose to study at Austin Peay, firstly, because it provides a student-centered learning environment, and secondly, due to the high-quality research and leadership opportunities,” she said.
Pak took advantage of APSU’s Pre-Professional Health Program, which steered her toward a major in biology with a minor in chemistry. The program also helped her figure out what classes she needed to prepare her for medical school.
“The supportive campus environment helped me to stay motivated and confident to achieve my goals,” she said. “I believe that the high-quality research experience at APSU played a significant part in the selection process of the scholarship.”
When Pak arrived at APSU, she discovered a young, but thriving Pre-Professional Health Program on campus. In 2011, the University developed a pre-professional health minor through the APSU College of Science and Mathematics, to provide guidance for students interested in different health care fields.
“When they come in as a freshman, we want them to start thinking about what they need to do every semester to prepare for their goal of getting into a professional school,” Dr. Cindy Taylor, APSU professor of biology and the minor’s coordinator, said. “It’s another way of getting students on track early.”
A new student organization, the Pre-Health Professional Society, was also formed to help provide a support network for these students. At club meetings, members mingle with like-minded students and learn what they need to do to prepare for graduate programs.
Pak credits this program and the entire University atmosphere with helping her find success.
“I would strongly recommend APSU not only to premedical students, but to any student who wants to study in an energetic and supportive environment,” she said. “I firmly believe that APSU provides students with all the ingredients necessary to prepare for a successful future.”
Information on the Pre-Professional Health program, including a planning guide instructing students on what courses to take, is available online at www.apsu.edu/cosm/preprofessional-health-minor.