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FFA and 4-H scholarships will lead to future doctors for rural Oklahoma

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A doctor interacts with a patient.

Two significant gifts to Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences will allow the school to offer medical school scholarships to benefit rural Oklahoma high school students who participated in FFA or 4-H chapters.

The $2.8 million in scholarship funds was created by combined gifts from the Joseph E. Robert Jr. Charitable Trust and the estate of Audrey M. Hendershot.

“OSU-CHS is committed to combating the growing physician shortage in rural Oklahoma by creating and growing a strong pipeline of new doctors eager to bring their skills back to their hometowns upon completion of their medical education,” said Kayse Shrum, D.O., OSU-CHS president and OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine dean.

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The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences public medical school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Our Blue Coat to White Coat program, in cooperation with FFA chapters all over the state, encourages some of Oklahoma’s brightest rural students to pursue a career in medicine. The success of the program has inspired us to forge a new partnership with the state’s 4-H programs,” Shrum said.

Neither Robert, a financier and philanthropist from Washington D.C., nor Hendershot, a widow from Shawnee, Oklahoma, were OSU alumni. However, OSU alumni played a critical role in making these gifts possible.

The $1 million gift from the Robert Trust was initiated by a connection that OSU alumnus Ross McKnight made with David Fensterheim, trustee of the Robert Trust and executor of the Robert estate. The trust’s gift will endow a medical scholarship for FFA students attending medical school at OSU Center for Health Sciences who want to care for underserved children in rural Oklahoma.

Likewise, OSU alumnus Rick Hesser worked closely with Hendershot to set up four scholarship funds to support future rural physicians. Proceeds from her estate will be used to set up a $1 million scholarship endowment for 4-H students studying medicine at OSU interested in practicing medicine in rural Oklahoma; $30,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund for the 3+1 Program at OSU-CHS; and $770,000 in cash scholarships for 4-H and FFA students attending OSU to study medicine.

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