Three Physician Assistant Students Receive Full-Ride Scholarships From National Health Service Corps

By Emily Horowitz | January 12, 2023

Arcadia University is proud to announce that the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has awarded scholarships to three Arcadia University students in the Physician Assistant program.

Joly Wu and Olivia Honert from the Delaware campus and Hayden Blanchard from the Glenside campus will each receive a full-ride scholarship in exchange for their commitment upon graduation in May 2024 of providing at least two years of primary care health services in an underserved Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

Only about 10 percent of NHSC scholarship applicants receive the award. Applicants must demonstrate their commitment to primary care and to delivering it in underserved communities.

Joly Wu, a 2024 MMS/MPH candidate

Joly Wu

For Wu, who is enrolled in Arcadia’s dual degree program in Master of Public Health and Physician Assistant (MPH/MMS) and completed most of the MPH requirements in May 2022, the scholarship is validation that she made the right decision pursuing a new career path.

“It’s hard to describe in words how truly grateful I feel to be awarded the NHSC scholarship,” Wu says. “My father passed away to glioblastoma brain cancer when I was 15. He was the only source of income in our household, since my parents immigrated from China in the 80s and my mom never formally learned English or worked in America… At a young age, unsure of my passions and how to afford college, I was extremely fortunate to be awarded a merit-based full-ride scholarship for an undergraduate degree in Business and decided to pursue that path. However, after graduating and working in accounting/finance for four years, I felt unfulfilled and I decided to change careers to become a Physician Assistant. One of the biggest hindrances to changing careers and pursuing an advanced degree, especially in medicine, is the financial burden. But I took my chances on chasing my dream of becoming a PA, went back to take all necessary undergraduate science pre-requisites, and took on student loans along the way. I’m so glad that I did pursue this new path. I feel so much more passionate and motivated in this new career trajectory! Being awarded the NHSC scholarship helps validate and encourage me to continue this hard journey in healthcare.”

After graduation, Wu hopes to go into primary care/women’s health in a rural community similar to DeKalb, Ill., where she was raised, and help increase the racial/ethnic diversity in the OB/GYN provider options. Wu truly believes, as studies have shown, there is a significant association between patient-provider racial/ethnic concordance; there are higher patient satisfaction scores and improved patient outcomes when the patient feels more comfortable with a provider who looks like them and can relate to their psychosocial, cultural background. 

Olivia Honert

Honert says not having to worry about graduate school loans helps her feel empowered. “I am honored to have been chosen out of thousands of applicants, and I feel like my hard work in undergraduate school has been recognized. I am my first family member to pursue a master’s degree as well, so this scholarship is amazing because it encourages students who otherwise can’t afford graduate school to apply and fulfill their dreams. I am so proud of myself and proud that I will be able to serve and give back to underprivileged communities near me.”

This degree will be Honert’s second from Arcadia; she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology in May 2022 with a minor in Scientific Illustration. She plans to return to her hometown of Lancaster, Pa., to work in family medicine “to provide preventative and chronic illness care that these individuals both need and deserve, but often don’t have access to due to lack of practitioners and affordable access to healthcare.”

Hayden Blanchard, a 2024 MMS candidate

Hayden Blanchard

Rounding out the scholarship recipients is Blanchard, a native of Las Flores, Calif., who studied Physiology and Developmental Biology as well as German Studies at Brigham Young University. He previously volunteered in a free clinic as a Spanish medical interpreter and plans to continue that work in an underserved community after completing the PA program.

“I feel excited about working primary care with underserved patients because I feel like they have a lot of unaddressed needs, and my thought is that it will be a good way to start and see a breadth of conditions,” Blanchard says.

Arcadia University’s Physician Assistant Program

Arcadia’s Physician Assistant program is nationally-ranked and fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). For more information, click here.