Eight Western University of Health Sciences students earned National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarships by committing to practice in underserved areas.

College of Dental Medicine students Long Cao, DMD ’17, Asya Gyurjyan, DMD ’18, and Tracy Ngo, DMD ’18; College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) students Cristian Carrillo, DO ’18, and Andrew Shore, DO ’18; and three other students who declined to be named were selected due to their academic excellence and commitment to service through health care.

The scholarship pays tuition, fees, and other educational costs, and provides a stipend in return for a commitment to work at least two years at an NHSC- approved site in an underserved community. Service begins after graduation and completion of primary care residency training for doctors and dentists. The NHSC has thousands of approved sites located in urban, rural and frontier communities across the U.S. The Corps will provide technical support to scholars as they search for the site and community that is right for them. While serving, scholars earn a competitive salary, which is paid by the NHSC-approved site.

The NHSC Scholarship application process is highly competitive. For fiscal year 2014, the NHSC received a total of 1,844 applications from more than 400 schools. Less than 15 percent of the applicants received the scholarship award, and WesternU ranked among the top 20 schools with NHSC scholarship awardees, according to NHSC.

The 2015 NHSC Scholarship Program application period is scheduled to open in March or April. For more information on the NHSC, please visit: http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/.

First-year COMP student Cris Carrillo will receive the NHSC scholarship for four years. His parents emigrated from rural Mexico and raised four children in medically underserved areas in California, Carrillo said.

“During that time, I would often help my father do construction when I wasn’t in school,” he said. “Talking with many other migrants and hearing their stories has moved me to commit to serving underserved communities. One of my core beliefs is that you must give back to the community that raised you. When I begin my career, I will be honored to provide medical care for this community, which has taught me so much and made me into the person I am today.”

First-year College of Dental Medicine student Asya Gyurjyan said she has witnessed the result of neglected oral health care in underserved communities as a dental volunteer.

“I have found incredible empowerment from the life-changing power of dentistry, dedicating my time and knowledge to aiding those in need. With the belief that dentistry is an essential health benefit all people are entitled to, I hope to ethically and fully meet the oral health care needs of thousands of uninsured patients,” she said. “My goal is to make a difference in the life of the often-neglected patient, toward the restoration of not only disease, but the rebirth of self-esteem, confidence, and freedom from pain, and empowerment with education.”

First-year College of Dental Medicine student Tracy Ngo will receive the NHSC scholarship for four years.

“I applied for the NHSC Scholarship because I have seen firsthand the disparities in health care,” she said. “I feel that it is important to work in underserved communities because too often, there are not enough viable options for patients who lack access to care or cannot find providers that will accept their insurance. It is my goal to be a part of that solution for the rest of my career.”