The road to medical school is often fraught with challenges. In addition to good grades, high test scores and dedication to the profession, there is the cost involved in preparing for entrance exams—namely the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Now, through a new scholarship established by a renowned cardiologist and steadfast Western supporter, students can tap new resources to prepare for the rigorous test. The fund, called the MCAT Prep Scholarship, was established by Dr. Elliott Brown, a New Jersey doctor who, through skiing, fell in love with the Gunnison Valley.
During his summers, Brown teaches a pre-med and pre-health course at Western for students interested in the field of medicine. Additionally, he hosts students for two weeks at his East Coast home who are interested in shadowing him, and he’s a member of the Health Care Advisory Board at Western.
Advisory Board members advise students, guest lecture and connect undergraduates with opportunities in and outside the Gunnison Valley. Brown said he contributes his time because of the value he found in Western and its students.
“You’re with a faculty where the ratios are such that learning is very personal, everyone is very invested in it,” Brown said in 2018 interview with Western. “I personally have written recommendations for countless students and seen them grow through the process, so you really get all that it takes to be an impressionable young person getting here and seeing your goals which are tangible come through, while having experiences you’ve never dreamed of.”
Learning How to Help Others
The first recipient of the MCAT Prep Scholarship is—by coincidence—one of Brown’s protégés. Jake Wilcox, who graduates in Spring 2021 with a degree in Exercise & Sports Science, became fascinated with medicine following an injury.
A member of the Western Basketball team, Jake said the injury to his back and his progressive recovery drove his interest in learning to help others. He enrolled in a summer course taught by Brown, with whom he found a deep connection. Wilcox then did an internship with Brown in the summer of 2019 to learn more about the practice of medicine.
“It was interesting to see the direct impact that one can have on another’s life, to give them a better state of living,” Wilcox said.
But, as he began to investigate the path toward becoming a doctor, he discovered one of the typical barriers to success. Preparation courses for the MCAT, he said, cost about $2,500. There also are travel costs associated with interviewing with various schools, both of which can really add up. Wilcox applied for the MCAT Prep Scholarship to defray some of those expenses and became the first to be awarded the funds.
“He was the most deserving candidate,” explained Emily McMahill, Western Health Professions Advisor, who reviewed all the applications. “It’s important to note that Dr. Brown has no say in who receives the award so there was no ‘playing favorites.’”
Looking Toward the Future
“I didn’t know I was the first recipient,” Wilcox said when he learned of the news. “That’s an honor, because I know it wasn’t just me applying.”
McMahill described Wilcox as “motivated” and “hard-working,” and that the purpose of the MCAT Prep fund is to help deserving young people like him. She hopes to grow the scholarship fund with other donations in coming years.
“Our hope is that it will grow—at least one per year, but we would like to get offer multiple scholarships each year,” said McMahill. “We have about four to five students, like Jake, who are interested in applying.”
Interested in opportunities like this at Western? Learn more about the Pre-Medicine program.
Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Elliott Brown