June 29, 2017
Bill Parker portrait June 29, 2017

“When I came to UAB, I barely had enough money to eat,” says Bill Parker, a 1972 graduate of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program. “The UAB community took a chance on me and they invested in me. That changed my life.”

Forty-five years later, Mr. Parker has established the first endowed scholarship for the PA program. The Bill Parker Endowed Scholarship in Physician Assistant Studies will provide scholarships for current and future students.

A native of Hartsville, S.C., Mr. Parker’s skill with his hands showed itself early as he worked on woodworking projects with his father. He joined the U.S. Air Force after high school, and then earned a degree in biology from the University of South Carolina. Working as a scrub technician, he found that he loved surgery – and recalled his mother’s stories from her work as a nurse, which he says influenced his approach to patient care – and was accepted to UAB’s PA school.

Mr. Parker has spent the past 18 years at the Alabama Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, working with UAB School of Medicine alumnus Kenneth W. Bramlett, MD, who also completed his orthopedic surgery residency at UAB. He also remained active with the National Guard, completing his military career with 28 years of service.

Mr. Parker has often thought about the impact UAB PA had on his life.

“The UAB PA program gave me the opportunity to have a career where I enjoy what I do and every day I am able to improve another person’s quality of life – there are not many people in the world who can say that,” Mr. Parker says.

“Helping others is a special feeling I don’t want to lose when my PA career ends. Establishing this endowed scholarship means I can continue to have a positive impact on people’s lives forever – and again, there are not many people who can say that.”

Roni Alcantara will be the first recipient of the Bill Parker Endowed Scholarship in Physician Assistant Studies.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do up to that point. My parents and I had talked about how I might have to take out my first student loan,” Ms. Alcantara, a first-generation college student, said. “It was an incredible surprise to find out I received the scholarship.”

Ms. Alcantara, who completed her undergraduate degree at UAB, has been active in campus organizations such as the Student Multicultural Council and Undergraduate Student Government Association. She said the way UAB treats its students – and meeting faculty and staff in the PA program – positively influenced her choice to attend the PA program.

“I wanted to make sure I had a great mental health support system, and UAB does a great job with that. I knew it would be a good place for me.”

Ms. Alcantara will begin the PA program in August.

To support scholarships in the School of Health Professions: Katie Davidson Adams, 205.996.5469; katiedav@uab.edu