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While studying at UCF and working with a graduate of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, UCF alumna Tiffany Strong was awarded the prestigious Alumni Heritage Scholarship from AUC earlier this year. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition for her first semester of medical school at AUC.

The Alumni Heritage Scholarship eligibility requirements require the applicant to hold an undergraduate degree, have a minimum overall 3.0 GPA, obtain a letter of recommendation from an AUC graduate, write a personal essay and hold an offer of admission to AUC.

Strong graduated from UCF with a degree in micro & molecular biology in the summer of 2014.

“As an undergrad, I didn’t realize how much these classes [at UCF] would prepare me until I began my first semester of medical school,” she said.

While she attended UCF, Strong was an active member of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. She also participated in Knight-Thon for two years, volunteered on the pediatric surgical floor of Florida Hospital Orlando for one year and was a camp counselor for children with serious illnesses at Camp Boggy Creek for two summers.

She was also members of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and the National Honors Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Strong partnered with Dr. Walter Morgan, a neurologist for Florida Hospital and graduate of AUC, who she met through her work as a scribe in the emergency room during her time at UCF.

“After working at the hospital for quite some time, some of the doctors began recognizing me by name or by frequently seeing my face at the hospital,” Strong said. “Dr. Morgan allowed me to make rounds with him inside the emergency department, as well as visit his patients who were admitted to the hospital.

"My time with Dr. Morgan gave me a different perspective on medicine because I was able to see how physicians interact with patients outside of an ER setting.”

Sekou Smith, the southeastern associate director of admission for the medical school, also worked closely with Strong through AUC admissions process.

"The scholarship engages AUC alumni in the process of identifying aspiring physicians who are currently living AUC’s core value," he said.

The mission of AUC is to provide an excellent medical education to qualified students of diverse backgrounds. This is to be accomplished within an atmosphere of academic integrity and scholarship, which fosters the highest standards in professional ethics and competence.

“AUC students demonstrate social accountability, embrace diverse life experiences and are engaged students and citizens,” said Dr. Heidi Chumley, the executive dean and chief academic officer of AUC. “The Alumni Heritage Scholarship recognizes and rewards incoming students who exemplify the breadth and depth of AUC’s culture beyond academics.”

After graduation, Strong traveled to Costa Rica, where she participated in a Service and Adventure Project. She partook in projects such as animal rehabilitation, intercultural exchange at a local elementary school and a house renovation in a local village.

“This experience was life changing because I was able to witness the effect a few people could have on the lives of many," she said. "It was extremely rewarding to see how grateful the locals of Costa Rica were for our service."

Although Strong does not currently know what field she hopes to specialize in, she is looking forward to clinical rotations to give her a better understanding of which field of medicine she wants to eventually pursue.

Students interested in the scholarship program can visit the AUC website for information about the application.

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Lauren Konkol is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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