Honored and grateful

rebecca kish, a 2019 Western new york Medical scholarship recipient.

Rebecca Kish, a 2019 Western new york Medical scholarship recipient

“Beyond grateful” is how Rebecca Kish, class of 2021, describes what she felt when she learned that she had been named a 2019 recipient of the Western New york Medical Scholarship, which will cover the majority of her medical school tuition.

The Western New york Medical Scholarship Fund, now in its fifth year, provides four-year scholarships to local students to attend the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The goal is to train and retain more doctors in the eight counties of Western New york, stemming a steady decline in the number of physicians who practice here.

Scholarship recipients are awarded about $30,000 annually and must pledge to practice in Western New york for five years upon finishing medical school and resident training. The highly selective criteria require recipients to have excelled academically, to have graduated from a high school in the eight-county region of Western New york and to have demonstrated financial need.

Kish, a native of Buffalo, was raised by her mother, a single parent, in a cottage near the beach in angola. When health issues arose in the family, it was difficult to find specialists close to home. “This was one of the first things that spurred my interest in becoming a doctor,” Kish recalls. “Everyone should have access to quality health care.”

When Kish was young, her mother returned to school to become a physical therapist assistant, assuming steep debt. Kish realized her mother would not be able to help finance her education and that she had to make her way on her own. Fortunately, her academic achievements earned her a Provost scholarship at UB and, upon graduation, she was admitted to UB medical school. The accomplishment was bittersweet once she realized she would have to assume over $300,000 in debt over the next four years to cover her education and living expenses.

“Now, by alleviating my debt, the Western New york Medical scholarship allows me to stay in my hometown and give back to the community I love,” says Kish. “Because of this I will have the opportunity to pursue the avenues of medicine that I am truly passionate about without having debt guide my choices.”

This summer, Kish began her third-year of medical school with renewed appreciation. “I can focus on becoming the best physician possible, and not have to worry about my financial situation upon graduating,” she says. “and I am so honored to know that the community supports my education.”

To learn more about the Western New york Medical Scholarship Fund, email Eric alcott, senior associate dean and executive director of medical philanthropy and alumni engagement, at ealcott@buffalo.edu, or call (716) 829-2773.

Story by S.A. Unger