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Scholarship lightens the financial and mental load for aspiring doctor

Aidan Morrell went from tending animals on his family’s Prineville, Oregon, farm to researching how to prevent infections after joint replacement surgery when he became a student in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Morrell was an academic success, graduating as a high school valedictorian and earning a biochemistry degree from his hometown college, George Fox University. But family assistance and funding for his dream of a medical career were hard to come by.

“I came into medical school interested in orthopaedics, but there are no doctors in my family,” Morrell says. “Trying to figure out what factors are important in choosing a career path and specialty has been a pretty steep learning curve.”

The School of Medicine provided career counseling and advice on choosing a specialty, but finances remained a concern until he received the Penroase S. Forman Scholarship. The scholarship has enabled Morrell to delve deeply into orthopaedic surgery by attending medical conferences, where he learns cutting-edge research from top orthopaedic specialists and networks with other medical students.

“The prospect of student debt is kind of this ominous feeling that’s constantly in the back of my mind,” Morrell says. “Getting a scholarship has been a really big blessing.”

The scholarship has also had a validating effect, Morrell adds.

“It’s just really encouraging to feel like you’re noticed and not just another face in the crowd,” he says, “and it’s encouraging to remember that in the future, I might have the opportunity to use my own resources to make a big impact on another student’s life.”