The Class of 2023's Chandler Johnson, recipient of the Guy R. Fisher Scholarship. Photography by Kevin Morley, VCU University RelationsThe Class of 2023's Chandler Johnson, recipient of the Guy R. Fisher Scholarship. Photography by Kevin Morley, VCU University Relations

When I was notified that I had been selected to receive the Guy R. Fisher Scholarship, I read the email over several times to make sure I had read it correctly, I realized I had a goofy smile on my face the entire time. Once I had finished my own celebration, I quickly picked up the phone to announce the award to my family.

Growing up, finances have always been a touchy subject and source of worry for me. In 2003, at the age of 8, I relocated with my family from bustling Los Angeles to Oakdale, a small, agricultural town in Northern California. Shortly after moving, my family experienced a financial hardship that persisted throughout most of my young adulthood. From a young age, it was clear to me that student loans would have to be my primary way of paying for college as well as graduate school if I chose to pursue that avenue. Since education has always been a top priority, I didn’t want to let the thought of going into debt discourage me. Though in time, especially after making the decision to pursue medicine, the debt and loans gradually became a heavy burden that consistently loomed over me.

Receiving the Guy R. Fisher Scholarship has certainly helped to reduce this burden moving forward; however, it means much more to me than a reduced tuition cost. The scholarship made me feel supported, desired and welcomed into the VCU community. The award served as a testament to VCU’s commitment to their students and their wellness. Within the next few days after receiving the award, I withdrew all other applications and committed to VCU, the school that I felt would not only encourage my educational goals, but also those that were financial and personal. I was now more excited than ever to become a part of not only a school, but a family.

I am extremely grateful to have received this additional layer of support as I begin my journey through medical school as a student and future health care professional. My desire to pursue medicine stems from the tangible opportunity to make a lasting impact on the health of your community and the world through education, research and patient care. As a physician, you uphold a privileged position that can not only directly impact human life by practicing the existing standard of care, but you can also look at the world curiously, ask questions, and pursue them through research with the hope of advancing the field further and bettering patient lives. I am grateful to have the opportunity to make these aspirations a reality in the coming years with the generous support of Dr. Guy R. Fisher and the VCU community.

Did you know...

The medical school is 90 percent of the way toward its $25 million in the 1838 Scholarship Campaign. Over the course of the campaign, 75 new endowed scholarships have been created and 42 existing endowed scholarship funds have increased in size through new gift commitments.

Learn more about the role you can play in making medical education more affordable