UA Tucson Med Students Awarded Free Tuition at Reception on Friday

The University of Arizona Primary Care Physician Scholarship Reception will recognize the first 21 recipients from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Recipients receive free tuition in exchange for practicing in a rural or urban underserved community in Arizona for up to four years, depending on how many years they receive the scholarship.

The news media are invited to meet these medical students on Friday, Jan. 31 from 1-2 p.m., and hear about the impact they will have on increasing access to primary care in Arizona’s underserved areas during a brief reception at the El Rio Health – Manning House, 450 W. Paseo Redondo, Tucson, AZ 85701 (Parking is available in the City/State Parking Garage located at 480 W. Congress.)

This innovative scholarship program, developed in partnership with and funded by a portion of $8 million provided by the State of Arizona, is part of UArizona Health Sciences’ commitment to remove financial and geographical barriers to education and health-care access. The scholarship program was announced in November 2019.

Once the scholarship program is fully implemented, about 100 students from University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix) could receive the scholarship. Through the commitment of these students, University of Arizona Health Sciences and the State of Arizona, access to primary care will increase in underserved communities statewide, and medical student debt will decrease.

The application process was competitive, and students were required to explain and demonstrate their commitment to work in underserved communities in Arizona. Several of their stories are below.

  • Throughout his childhood in Douglas, Arizona, second-year studentRaymond Larez, MPH, experienced challenges accessing consistent primary care and trusting health care providers in a system with high turnover. “As a first-generation, bilingual, non-traditional student, I know that I can help these communities. That is why this scholarship is important. More people from rural and underserved communities can go back and provide the care that I know will be helpful to the community.”
  • Growing up in an underserved area of Phoenix, second-year student Caylan Moore was inspired to help others by his grandmother’s dedication and commitment to their community. “I have learned the power my background brings to a patient encounter,” he says. “I am so excited to return to Maryvale one day to practice. I want to be a living representation that no matter where you come from, you can achieve any dream.”
  • Fourth-year student Cazandra Zaragoza, MPH, is a graduate of the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway program. Zaragoza’s biological mother had been a single woman about to die from a treatable illness in rural Mexico when she was forced to choose between paying for health care and supporting her family; she put her children up for adoption and died three months later. As a PCP, Zaragoza intends to provide excellent health care to all individuals, especially those—like her mother—who are most underserved. “The need [for primary care physicians] in Arizona is great, and I am committed to being part of the solution.”

Reception Speaker Schedule
1:10 p.m. Michael Abecassis, MD, dean, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
1:18 p.m. Felipe Perez, MD, El Rio Health
1:20 p.m. Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president, University of Arizona Health Sciences
1:26 p.m. Introduction of scholarship recipients: Carlos Gonzales, MD, Director, Rural Health Professions Program & Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) Program, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
1:32 p.m. Raymond Larez, scholarship recipient
The event will conclude about 1:40 p.m.