Candice HudsonFor once, being from a small town has its advantages especially for Candice Hudson. The West Blocton, Ala. native earned her bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from UAB in 2010 and worked in a hospital and long-term care facility. She was still paying her undergraduate loans and acquired more when she entered the Physician Assistant (PA) program.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and I researched hospitals on careers in medicine that would allow me to help others suffering from similar conditions,” said Hudson. “I was intrigued by the Physician Assistant profession.”

Because Hudson, who was raised by a single mom, is from a disadvantaged background, she qualified for a scholarship from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The scholarship awards up to $15,000 toward her tuition and fees.

“The scholarship helped me tremendously in affording the rising cost of education,” said Hudson. “I am most grateful to receive such a scholarship and have the opportunity to attend graduate school without having to be concerned with employment while in school.”

Having a background in respiratory therapy has been an advantage for her while earning her master’s degree in SPA.

“I know about lung mechanics and the diseases thereof, mechanical ventilators, and the analysis and interpretation of arterial blood gases, which will come into play in the management plans for patients,” said Hudson.

She looks forward to the day when she graduates in 2014 so she can give back to communities like hers.

“I want to be able to help those that come from similar backgrounds such as my own because oftentimes, rural communities encounter a shortage in health care professionals,” said Hudson.

Hudson can also be an example for others to show she’s no longer a “statistic,” but someone who has beaten the odds. And she can contribute some of her success to her number one cheerleader, her mom.

“My mother has given so much for me to help me accomplish some of my biggest dreams,” said Hudson. “As a single parent, we’ve endured some hard times but she has never given up hope and she is always there to encourage me! She is truly my angel.”