SydneyMohr 275x275In August, third-year medical student Sydney Mohr was awarded the 2019 Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholarship, which provides full tuition for the third year of medical school and is renewable for the fourth year. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student who has excelled in academics, service, and leadership. Mohr was recognized at the School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony Aug. 18, where she received a new white coat with a special insignia identifying her as the Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholar.

For Mohr, a Suwanee, Georgia, native, her passion for medicine began at an early age. “In middle school, I had a science teacher who chose a few kids to learn labs before everyone else and then teach them to the class,” Mohr says. “That’s when I first became interested in the sciences.”

In Mohr’s first month of her undergraduate education at the University of Georgia, life-changing news turned her interest in science into a love of medicine. “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Mohr says. “Seeing how the doctors impacted her life pushed me even more in the direction of medicine.”

SydneyMohrMohr shadowed physicians and went on a medical relief trip to the Dominican Republic with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children. “We shadowed doctors at the local hospital, and taught clinics for diabetes and nutrition education,” Mohr said. “Those experiences clearly showed me that medicine was in my future.”

Mohr says she is grateful to receive this scholarship because it recognizes someone who put service to her patients and community first. “It’s a huge honor, probably the biggest honor of my life, to receive this scholarship in Dr. Sara Crews Finley’s name because she was such a pioneer for women in the medical field,” Mohr says. “If I could be half the doctor she was, I would be content.”

While she is still deciding on a specialty to pursue, Mohr knows that she wants to help the underserved. While at the University of Georgia, Mohr volunteered at the Mercy Health Center, a clinic that provides free health care services to the uninsured in the Athens area. “There are so many people with so many needs, but we could only accept a limited number of new patients a week,” Mohr said. “It was difficult to see a lot of people not receiving the health care they needed. Because of this experience, it has become my priority to help people who can’t get help otherwise throughout the rest of my medical career.”

During her time at UAB, Mohr has worked with the underserved community in Birmingham. She has volunteered at Equal Access Birmingham and the M-POWER Ministries Health Center, two clinics that provide health care to those without access to insurance.

She is thankful for this scholarship because it allows her to continue her community outreach without having to worry about the heavy burden of paying for medical school. “I chose to come to UAB because I really loved the school, the research opportunities, and the clinical training,” Mohr says. “At the same time, I knew I was going to have to pay out-of-state tuition. This scholarship really changes my life.”

Sara Crews Finley, M.D., co-founded the first medical genetics program in the Southeast with her husband, Wayne H. Finley, M.D., Ph.D. and served as co-director of the Laboratory of Medical Genetics at UAB for more than 30 years. Not only does the scholarship honor Finley for her contributions to the field of genetics, but it also recognizes her leadership and service to the community around her.

Mohr with Finleys webLeft to right: Sydney Mohr with Sara J. Finley, Wayne Finley, M.D., Ph.D., and Randall Finley, M.D., at a legacy reception preceding the 2019 White Coat Ceremony. “When our family first established this scholarship to honor my mother’s legacy, we weren’t sure how the program would evolve,” says Sara J. Finley, daughter of Sara Crews Finley, M.D., and Wayne H. Finley, M.D., Ph.D. “Five years later, we are so proud to know these scholars on a personal level and follow them as they earn their medical degrees and transition into select residency programs. We look forward to welcoming Sydney to this extraordinary group.” 

By Bennett Page

To learn about giving to medical scholarships and minority medical scholarships, contact Jessica Brooks Lane at (205) 975-4452 or jblane@uab.edu.