On National Doctors’ Day, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso announced the creation of the Medical Student Empowerment Fund.
The scholarship fund was made possible thanks to El Paso community leaders Amy and Clement Marcus. Their generous gift to the Foster School of Medicine will benefit the lives of students who receive the scholarship support along with each patient they serve throughout their career as physicians.
In honor of their generosity, the fifth-floor lobby of Medical Sciences Building II, the newest addition to the TTUHSC El Paso campus, will be named after the Marcus family. TTUHSC El Paso will match the family’s donation, doubling the impact the Medical Student Empowerment Fund will have for El Paso students.
Through their actions and leadership, the Marcus family has been proud to support the El Paso community with a focus on improving health care. Clement Marcus served as the chair of the University Medical Center Foundation of El Paso Board and Amy Marcus is one of the University Medical Center Volunteer Corps’ 20 founders. Together, they advocated for and championed the opening of El Paso Children’s Hospital.
The Medical Student Empowerment Fund will go to scholarships for students with financial need with preference for students who are residents of El Paso County or graduated from El Paso high schools. Seven incoming medical students have been selected for these competitive scholarships, which will be renewed for all four years they attend the Foster School of Medicine.
One of the first recipients of the Medical Student Empowerment Fund is Valerie Sanchez, a University of Texas at El Paso and San Elizario High School graduate, who will start at the Foster School of Medicine this fall. She has worked the past four years as a medical scribe, documenting physician-patient encounters at three of The Hospitals of Providence locations.
“When I found out I received the scholarship, I was so surprised. In fact I had to read it several times because I couldn’t believe it,” Sanchez said. “The financial stress I’d been feeling as I prepared to start in the fall instantly disappeared. Medical school is something I’ve been passionate about pursuing and this will allow me to fulfill my dream of serving my community without constantly worrying about how to make ends meet over the next four years.”
Ian Isaac Reyes moved to El Paso when he enrolled at UTEP nearly six years ago. The Poteet High School (Mesquite, Texas) graduate wanted to be closer to family members in the Sun City and was having breakfast with his grandparents when he received news about the scholarship.
“It’s giving me the perfect window to get into medical school with my feet on the ground, and it allows me to focus on my studies,” Reyes said. “Knowing that there are people like Mr. and Mrs. Marcus, who are so generous and looking out for fellow El Pasoans, is inspiring for someone like me who may have not had an opportunity to pursue my dream without financial support. It makes me want to succeed in medical school and start helping others as a physician. This is an opportunity to improve the lives of my fellow Texans.”
The other inaugural recipients are:
· Yathip “Mindy” Chokpapone – Cy-Fair High School (Cypress, TX), University of Texas at Dallas and Francis Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
· Evelyn M. Esparza – Mission Early College High School and UTEP
· Andrea Perez-Perez – Immanuel Christian High School and Texas Tech University
· Daniel Lara – Ysleta High School and Grinnel College
· Nickolas Sanchez – Maxine Silva Health Magnet School and UTEP
Scholarships are more than just financial assistance; they provide inspiration and encouragement for talented, hard-working local students to aspire to a career that was once out of reach before the opening of the Foster School of Medicine. Donors like Amy and Clement Marcus make it possible for students to graduate and join the health care workforce where they are needed the most. This is vital to the Borderplex community’s ability to combat a shortage of physicians and continue battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 10 years ago, prior to the opening of the Foster School of Medicine, El Paso County’s average number of direct care physicians per 100,000 people was 75% less than the national average. Currently, the county faces a 50% shortage. In that time, El Paso County has grown its number of direct care physicians from 844 to 1,325, a 57% increase and a direct result of having a four-year medical school in the area.
The Foster School of Medicine has matched nearly 90 students to El Paso residency programs, fulfilling the university’s goal of providing more physicians for the region. Residents are likely to stay and practice in the areas where they complete their training.
TTUHSC El Paso is the only health sciences center on the U.S.-Mexico border and serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It is designated as a Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution, preparing the next generation of health care heroes, 48% of whom identify as Hispanic and are often first-generation college students.