Three second-year medical students stood in the lobby of the UMKC School of Medicine on Tuesday morning, raised their right hands and together were sworn into the United States Air Force as commissioned officers through the military’s Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6Et_nrf-0k]
Kelsey Brown, Rafael Lozano and Farhan Raza all took the oath delivered by U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Janessa Pennington, who just happens to be a third-year student at the School of Medicine.
Brown said she was following in the footsteps of her mother, Brenda Wells, M.D., ’85, who also entered the Air Force through the HPSP while a student at the School of Medicine.
“That’s how I knew about the program and knew it would be a good fit for me,” Brown said.
Students who join the military through the scholarship program enter the military reserve as a commissioned officer at the rank of second lieutenant and are automatically promoted to captain when they begin their active service after medical school. In return for their scholarship, which covers the cost of their medical education, a monthly living stipend while in school, and a signing bonus, medical students are required to serve one year of active duty for every year of their scholarship.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Raza said. “It was an interesting prospect to me to not only fund my medical education but to serve my country in the field of medicine.”
Lozano said his family also has a military background with several relatives who have served before him.
“I feel like it’s a great way for me to further my medical career,” Lozano said. “I feel that there’s a great discipline in the military and it will give me a good structure for what I want to do in the future.”
Brown said it was actually Pennington, who not only swore her in but was also her first contact at the School of Medicine for getting connected with the military. Pennington was commissionined into the Army just more than a year ago. Brown said she’s looking forward to the opportunity to travel and see other parts of the world as a military doctor, but isn’t making any concrete plans just yet.
“I’m taking it day by day for now,” Brown said. “I have some goals and some dreams but they’re not set in stone yet.”