Christine Robertson and Jessica LaPiano.

Scholarship recipients Christine Robertson, left, and Jessica LaPiano look forward to practicing medicine in this region and being part of its exciting transformation.

Local Award Covers Bulk of Tuition for 2 Deserving Medical Students

Published June 28, 2016

First-year medical students Jessica LaPiano and Christine Robertson have been awarded $30,000 annual tuition scholarships for their education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“I am grateful for the opportunity this scholarship provides me to give back to the community that has inspired and mentored me. ”
Jessica LaPiano
Recipient of Western New York Medical Scholarship
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Awards from the Western New York Medical Scholarship go to select local students who attend the medical school and pledge to stay in the area to practice for at least five years.

They cover more than 80 percent of tuition for each year of medical school.

Opportunity to Give Back

Both awardees recognize the tremendous gift that these scholarships represent. As they contemplate Buffalo’s future as a regional health care destination, they also stress their gratitude to the scholarship committee for allowing them to contribute to the community that has nurtured them.

“I love the city of Buffalo and have always wanted to remain here,” says Robertson, of Williamsville, who is considering pursuing general surgery.

“The city and its people are going through an incredible renaissance right now, and it is so exciting to be part of that progress. I am thrilled that I will have the university’s support to stay and practice in Buffalo.”

LaPiano is enthusiastic about participating in Buffalo’s “rising medical community.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity this scholarship provides me to give back to the community that has inspired and mentored me,” the Lancaster resident says.

“Knowing that I have a place in the Buffalo medical community when I have completed my training motivates me to work even harder.” 

Incentives to Practice Locally

Medical school alumnus John J. Bodkin II, MD, founded the Western New York Medical Scholarship fund last year. He co-chairs it with David M. Zebro, principal of Strategic Investments & Holdings.

They have teamed up with area organizations to encourage more locally trained physicians to remain in Western New York.

This year’s scholarships are funded by:

  • the John R. Oishei Foundation
  • the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
  • West-Herr Automotive Group

The scholarships aim to help address the local physician shortage, Bodkin notes.

“We felt that if we could offer scholarships to Western New York students who went to high school here and have established family ties here — and then offer incentives, such as mentoring by local doctors — we could influence them to stay and practice here after graduation and residency,” he says.

UB’s new downtown medical school building, scheduled to open in 2017, also will help ease the physician shortage. It will allow UB to increase its medical school class size, educating 25 percent more physicians each year.

Student’s Academic Record Among Criteria Considered

To be eligible for the Western New York Medical Scholarship, students must excel academically, have a demonstrated financial need and have graduated from a high school within the region’s eight counties.

Representatives from the scholarship fund and the medical school interview candidates and decide upon scholarship recipients.