Pictured are the five scholarship awardees (Left to Right): Katelyn Shirai, Eduardo Biala Jr., Benjamin Lee, Vanessa Freitas, Tiffany Kurozawa
HONOLULU – Recognizing the growing need to support students with a dream of looking to enroll in the University of Hawaiʻi’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), no matter their background, The Queen’s Health System has pledged to provide full four-year scholarships for five (5) incoming full-time medical students who have successfully completed the ‘Imi Ho‘ōla Post-Baccalaureate program. These scholarships signify Queen’s expanded support of the program, increasing the amount of scholarships available from three last year to five this year.
Currently a third-year medical student, Kamuela Andrade believes the program proved valuable and taught him how to study and manage his time. In 2019, Andrade was awarded a full four-year scholarship from Queen’s. “When I told my wife about the scholarship, she started to cry. And when she cried, I started to cry and my kids were wondering, ‘Why are you crying?’ And it was just jubilation after that.” Upon graduating, Andrade hopes to pursue family medicine and return to Kaua‘i, where he previously worked as a firefighter, to provide rural community health care.
In addition, for the last 10 years, Queen’s has supported students who are enrolled in the ‘Imi Ho‘ōla program by providing them monthly stipends, allowing them to commit their full attention to their studies.
‘Imi Ho‘ōla (“those who seek to heal”), a 12-month program in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health, gives them an opportunity to attend medical school. The program prepares students with an emphasis on the integration of concepts and principles in the areas of science and humanities. Upon completion of the program, students are enrolled in medical school.
“Too often we see physicians leaving the state due to the high cost of living and practicing medicine, which is reflected by the severe physician shortage, the worst shortage being on my home island of Hawaiʻi Island,” said Tiffany Kurozawa, a graduate of Kealakehe High School and incoming first year medical student. “With utmost appreciation to Queen’s, this scholarship eases the burden of paying off loans and nurtures my ability to provide focused medical care when I return to Kailua-Kona.”
In addition, Queen’s is also financially supporting ongoing efforts of building community health needs assessments within the Native Hawaiian population with the goal of creating a healthy and vibrant community. Furthermore, Queen’s is also helping to fund several teaching and research positions at JABSOM which focus on health disparities.
“We recognize the financial burden students and their families face when it comes to paying for medical school,” said Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Queen’s Health System. “The ‘Imi Ho‘ōla program and the Department of Native Hawaiian Health are extremely important to us because they provide opportunities for students to realize their dreams no matter what their background is. At the same time, we are helping to play a role in identifying the health needs in our most vulnerable communities and working towards providing resources for them. It is critical that we support the work of these students who may eventually be physicians caring for our community. We are proud to support their endeavors.”
“We are grateful to The Queen’s Health System for their longstanding support of the ‘Imi Ho‘ōla Post-Baccalaureate Program. The Queen’s Health System has provided essential financial support to deserving students in the program for more than 15 years,” said Winona Lee, MD, Director of the ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program. “Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Queen’s Health System continues to demonstrate their commitment to improving the health of our people by supporting the future of the physician workforce. These scholarships will allow ʻImi Hoʻōla students to achieve their dreams of becoming physicians and undoubtedly alleviate the financial strain and burden placed on themselves and their families.”
As part of the criteria for accepting a scholarship, students must sign an agreement with the John A. Burns School of Medicine to commit to practicing medicine in Hawaiʻi.