The Dr. and Mrs. W.R. Brooksher Jr. Scholarship was established in 1952 as a loan program to aid students training to be medical technologists and other allied health professionals. It was converted into a scholarship program in 1992 by the Alliance. The scholarship now supports students in the Radiologic Imaging Sciences program in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions.
The Arkansas Medical Society Alliance started in the 1920s as a group of physicians’ spouses who wanted to promote health care causes in the state. Over the years, the group has contributed more than $58,000 to UAMS programs in addition to the scholarships which the Alliance has awarded to Arkansas students for decades.
Representatives of the Alliance said the group recently decided to disband and chose to give some of their remaining funds to UAMS. Now the Alliance’s legacy will carry on in perpetuity through the establishment of the three scholarship endowments.
Current Alliance President Nikki Lawson and past presidents Sara Jouett, Sandy Harrison, and Ruth Mabry presented the $94,500 check to Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D and college officials. Three scholarship recipients joined in the presentation to thank members of the Alliance for their generosity.
“We like to think our mission is to support the profession of our spouses,” said Alliance president Nikki Lawson. “We are very pleased to make this gift to UAMS, especially since this is an institution that attracts students from all over the state.”
UAMS College of Medicine senior James Gregory, one of three medical students who received the Ilse F. Oates Scholarship this academic year, said every bit of scholarship money helps medical students ease their student debt burden.
Medical student Dennis Harris Jr., another Oates Scholarship recipient, noted that even though students know medical school is expensive, it seems there are always unexpected costs and fees – like buying a new white coat when his got stained.
Radiologic technology student Roxanna Raney, who received the Dr. and Mrs. W.R. Brooksher, Jr., Scholarship, said it was a big help to her. “As a single parent, this scholarship not only helped me but also helped my 6-year-old son.”
Richard Wheeler, M.D., College of Medicine executive associate dean, noted that the support for the College of Medicine began not long after the Alliance formed. Ilse F. Oates, an early member of the Alliance, which was then called the Medical Society Auxiliary, used to give cash gifts to some students. Later the Ilse F. Oates Scholarship was named in her honor.
Loan programs were soon set up by the Alliance and over time those were converted into scholarships that have awarded to medical, nursing and allied health students for decades.
“This past fall we had around 650 students in our various programs,” said UAMS College of Health Related Professions Dean Ronald Winters, Ph.D. “I would estimate two-thirds to three-quarters of those students qualify for financial aid based on need and/or merit, so this is gift is very appreciated.”
UAMS College of Nursing Dean Claudia Barone, Ed.D., R.N., said that unfortunately there’s never enough scholarship or financial aid to help every deserving student, but gifts such as the Alliance’s are a tremendous help.
“We don’t want to see a student have to stop school when they have a financial crisis,” Barone said.
Other UAMS programs supported in the past by the Alliance include the early childhood literacy program Reach Out and Read in the UAMS Area Health Education Centers and Stop America’s Violence Everywhere (SAVE), a program designed to teach conflict resolution skills to children and assist victims of abuse.