Scholarship helps first-year medical students pursue rural medicine

by Erin Arcand, contributing writer

Congratulations to first-year students from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine who were each awarded $4,000 scholarships from the Colorado Medical Society Education Foundation (CMS EF). Awardees are Aidan Sokup, Cooper Sclar and Brandon Middlemist. Mariah Werner is the recipient of the Maribeth and Jack Berry Scholarship and Timothy Ghan is the recipient of the William Gerald Rainer Scholarship.

Mariah Werner is in the rural training track at CUSOM, and intends to practice in rural northeastern Colorado, where she grew up on a ranch. Mariah will be completing a rural clerkship in Sterling, Colo., this upcoming school year, and is looking forward to learning in her own community and other rural areas. Mariah also hopes to bring education and mentoring opportunities to rural youth who aspire to careers in health care. She wrote in her application, “I believe that providing information and mentorship to students in rural areas about healthcare careers is vital to securing future generations of providers who will stay in the community.”

Aidan Sokup is also in the rural training track at CUSOM. He grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado, and stated in his application essay “my connection to the area is deep, inseverable, and intertwined with my passion for rural medicine – I feel the duty to give back to the communities of western Colorado.–” Aidan feels strongly about mentorship for rural youth as well. He says, “Since getting accepted to medical school, I’ve made it my mission to not only become a great physician, but also to become a role model and mentor for rural students who want to become health care professionals. As someone with such a similar background, I hope to serve as proof that they can pursue their dreams and serve their community, and this further deepens my desire to return to practice in rural Colorado.”

Cooper Sclar is in the rural and wilderness medicine track at RVU, and grew up in a small mountain town, where he observed his parents – both physician assistants – provide medical care to the community.
In Cooper’s words, “Colorado rural care is adaptive and personal. In these settings, patients are proud of where they are from.” Being a part of the community he serves, as well as building deep and meaningful relationships with his patients is something Cooper is passionate about, and what he believes will enable him to provide the highest level of care for those in the community.

Brandon Middlemist is in the rural track at CUSOM. His upbringing included working on his family’s farm, which taught him how to problem-solve using available supplies in creative solutions; a skill that has served him well in helping patients with limited resources. Brandon wrote in his application essay, “I am drawn to rural medicine due to its global nature: from bringing newborns into the world, to treating their grandparents. Just as my doctor growing up cared for multiple generations of my family, I hope to offer continuity of care to my patients, forming relationships, and getting to know them beyond a case in front of me.” He also believes that rural family physicians have the opportunity to help improve the health of the whole community by addressing the unique medical issues of that specific population.

Timothy Ghan is in the rural track at CUSOM and grew up in rural western Colorado. Before beginning medical school, he returned to his hometown and spent time working both in behavioral health and hospital settings. Timothy said in his application essay, “My family has personally struggled with the healthcare deficit that is present in many of the rural areas across Colorado, and my time during my gap year began to show me the impact I could have in counteracting these disparities. For this reason, after medical school I hope to return to rural Colorado to continue to work against the health care disparities that are present in much of our state.”

CMS EF, a 501(c)(3) private foundation, has a mission to render financial support to select first-year medical students at UCSOM and RVU. Student scholarships are based on criteria such as the student’s financial status, academic achievement and desire to practice in rural or underserved areas upon graduation.

The CMS EF Board is thankful for the generous financial contributions and support from CMS members and others who make these education scholarships possible. You can contribute to the CMS Education Foundation at

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine