HRSA scholarship recipientsHRSA scholarship recipients Elisa Cruz, Inquashia Shaw and Whitney Covington.Elisa Cruz is a first generation college graduate. Born and raised in Mexico by a single mom, Cruz learned from her responsibility, hard work, endurance and the aspirations to achieve her dreams. She’s following her dreams as a first-year physician assistant student at UAB. While pursuing a graduate degree, Cruz has taken on more loans. Fortunately, she is one of several students in the School of Health Professions to receive a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“The scholarship helps me reduce the amount of loan money I am taking out for graduate school and puts my mind at ease,” said Cruz. “I know that the less I take out, the quicker I will be able to pay it back and the more freedom I will have to invest myself in my profession and those we treat and care for.”

Four programs – Medical Technology, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant – awarded in 2012 nearly 15 scholarships per program per year for four years in the amount of $10,000 to $15,000 each that will be applied toward a student’s tuition and fees. Incoming students from disadvantaged backgrounds enrolling into one of these programs have the opportunity to receive one of these scholarships.

Nuclear Medicine Technology senior Inquashia Shaw, of Lawrenceville, Ga., has a little less stress her last semester in school because of the scholarship.

“Receiving this scholarship helps me to feel like I have contributed to my education and lifted a financial burden from my parents,” said Shaw. “I can continue my education without the stress of having to work two jobs to help pay for tuition. It has mainly helped me to focus on school and prepare myself for my career after graduation.”

Not having to work gives Shaw the opportunity to volunteer in her spare time. She’s a mentor with the Camp Fire organization for first and second graders at Hemphill Elementary.

As the oldest child in her family, Whitney Covington, of Montgomery, is the first in her family to attend college. In her final semester as a medical technology student, Covington was going to have to pay out of pocket for her clinical rotations.

“Gas was not so much of an issue before, but clinical rotations require me to travel more this semester,” said Covington. “The scholarship allows me the assurance that I will have adequate funds to meet the travel requirements.”

According to the Bureau of Health Professions of HRSA, the majority of the counties in the state of Alabama are designated as economically disadvantaged and 35 of the 67 counties in Alabama are classified as low-education counties. Future students should ask the program directors of these programs whether or not they would be eligible for the scholarship.