Kara Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C, will tell you she did not get to the place in her life right now all by herself. The Physician Assistant Studies assistant professor said she was fortunate to have parents that were very supportive of her going to college, but neither parent finished college.
“They were unable to help us ‘navigate’ the system of academia for undergraduate and definitely did not know how to help us when I went to graduate school,” said Caruthers.
Caruthers was mentored during school by professors, counselors and community leaders who saw her potential. It’s something she never forgot.
“Knowing that I had people who were vested in my success, who had traveled the same road and could help me avoid the pitfalls was invaluable,” said Caruthers. “I am a believer that as a recipient of the encouraging words, an open ear to vent and cry as well as correction, I must pay it forward.”
Caruthers has been paying it forward by mentoring black female students with the group, BWOMEN: Blazer Women Mentoring Excellence Network. The purpose is to allow students to develop to a relationship with a professional black female and scholars to prepare them for adulthood, the workforce and/or higher education.
”I have had my own struggles in life- including academic failures- but I have been blessed beyond measure in spite of those failures,” said Caruthers. ”Without failure or change there is no growth. I want the young ladies to know that in spite of the challenges that life presents, they can be successful.”
One of Caruthers co-workers, Kristopher Maday, MS, PA-C, CNSC, is also advising students through the UAB Mentor Program, something he’s done for two years. Each year, 50 students are matched with a professional or professional student in a field they are interested in pursuing.
“Students get valuable shadowing hours and hands-on experience before selecting a future profession,” said Maday, as assistant professor in the PA program.
Maday remembers his college career and the competitive process of trying to get into the PA program at UAB. Now he’s able to guide students on the application process to be a viable candidate.
“It’s great being involved in helping each student plan out their academic career in order to be competitive and successful in applying to PA school,” said Maday. “Some students do not get the opportunity to have any guidance before applying to graduate school and this helps with the fear and anxiety prior to completing that application.”
Caruthers never meets a student she doesn’t want to mentor. You can always find her working in the UAB Highlands Emergency Room or on campus mentoring students “on the side” that she’s met incidentally or through other students. Many of the students who have shadowed her end up becoming a PA just like her.