Published July 25, 2011
Days after learning that she had received a $20,000 scholarship from the Joseph Collins Foundation—twice the amount awarded to previous recipients—Sara Hansen was still pinching herself.
“I’m shocked,” said the fourth-year University at Buffalo medical student.
“I wasn’t counting on receiving this. After a few months went by and I didn't hear anything about my application, I assumed the worst.”
In years past, Joseph Collins Foundation awards did not exceed $10,000. This year, unbeknownst to Hansen, the foundation doubled the amount recipients could receive.
“Finding out not only that I’d been chosen, but that the scholarship was twice what I thought it would be, was a very joyous moment for me,” she said.
The Joseph Collins Foundation annually selects one new award recipient at each of 40 medical schools east of the Mississippi River.
Applicants must demonstrate financial need, excel academically and intend to go into general practice or specialize in neurology or psychiatry. They also should show an interest in the arts or other cultural pursuits.
Hansen meets all of the criteria.
She has received a Dean’s Letter of Commendation every semester of medical school. She plans to become a psychiatrist. She plays acoustic guitar.
Between private college and medical school, she estimates that she’ll owe $350,000.
“I’m sure I’ll appreciate this scholarship even more when I start paying back my loans, but just knowing that my debt burden is less helps me sleep better now,” said Hansen, the first college graduate in her family.
Once she shared the news of her scholarship with her husband, Hansen delivered a batch of homemade cookies to the Office of Medical Education. It was her way of thanking the staff for alerting her to the award and encouraging her to apply.
“I told them that if it wasn’t for them this wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “The whole office has done such amazing things for me, and I’m so thankful for them being there for me.”
Next, she plans to express her appreciation to the Joseph Collins Foundation.
“I’m going to write a very long ‘Thank You’ letter,” said the Fresno, Calif., native.
“I want to tell them that, someday, I hope I can return the favor to medical students in similar situations.”