Scholarships: An investment in the future of health care

February 28, 2023

Our students come to the Medical University of South Carolina from diverse backgrounds, with different hopes and goals for the future. But they are united in their passion for health care and their dedication to serve others.

They also face many of the same obstacles. Chief among them: the rising cost of an education.

Even after adjusting for inflation, the cost of a health care education has never been higher than it is right now, due largely to shortfalls in public funding that have led to sharp tuition increases at colleges and universities across the nation.

Because of these costs, students here and around the nation are borrowing more money and graduating with more debt than ever before – in some cases, $200,000 or more.

Debt of this magnitude can have far-reaching implications for our students and the health care system in general.

  • For many considering a career in health care, the prospect of such debt is a deal-breaker. They choose other paths.
  • It is creating a financial barrier to the profession, at the very time that many fields are experiencing a severe shortage in providers.
  • It leads many of our graduates to choose to work, live and practice in higher paying metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, access to care in rural communities continues to worsen.
  • It can lead some to practice in higher-paying specialties so that they can repay their loans more quickly. Meanwhile, shortages in primary care persist.
  • It can delay or alter other major quality-of-life decisions, such as home purchases, marriages, and children, for years.
  • It impedes diversification of the state’s health care work force.
  • It is closing the door to a career in health care to students of modest means.

We do not believe that health care should become a profession of the privileged, but of those who want it most and have worked hardest to be here. This is why MUSC is committed to growing its scholarships and reducing student debt.

We are pleased to introduce you to three students whose lives have been changed by scholarships: Mekenzie, Molly and Tavarus. Thanks to gifts from people like you, they are on the path to a rewarding career that will no doubt change – and in some cases save – the lives of countless others. 

Mekenzie Scardo, Class of 2023

Mekenzie Scardo 

Born into a military family, Mekenzie Scardo came to South Carolina to serve as a reservist in the U.S. Air Force. Shortly afterwards, she signed on to serve on a Meducare flight team, where she got her first inside look at MUSC’s care teams. Suddenly, a new career path – nursing – began to come into view.

“I saw the quality and thoroughness that MUSC shows and the respect that it provides to patients and caregivers and employees. I wanted to be a bigger part of that.”

Mekenzie is now in nursing school at MUSC, thanks in part to scholarships supported by philanthropy. After graduation, she looks forward to bringing her nursing skills to the service of both her patients and her country.

“Thank you. You are helping me achieve a lifelong goal by helping me go through this school and this program,” she said. “Not only will I be able to help the community of Charleston, but I'll also be able to help the Air Force by bringing the skills I learned here into the reserves.”

Molly Hoffman, Class of 2023

Molly Hoffman 

Molly came to MUSC with many competing priorities, including two children and a serviceman husband who deployed every nine months or so. Still, she had a strong passion for health care, rooted in the absence of it when she was growing up in a small farming community.

“I'm so thankful I get teary-eyed every time I talk about it when people ask me what scholarships mean to me. I really could not do this without it.“

Though funds were tight, she was able to enroll in MUSC’s physician assistant program, thanks in part to scholarships supported by philanthropy.

Molly is keeping her career options open for now. However, given her upbringing, she feels called to serve people in small towns with limited access to care.

“I hope to bring health care to communities that don't have access to it,” she said. “I would love to travel to different satellite clinics and do community outreach and education. I think people don't realize how little changes in their life can affect their health.”

Tavarus Rowe, Class of 2026

Tavarus Rowe 

Tavarus Rowe knew for a long time that he wanted to be a physician but says the cost was a huge disincentive. He had to work a job to make ends meet during his undergraduate education, and he knew this would not be possible given the demands of a medical curriculum.

Scholarships helped lower cost as a barrier to a career in medicine. He remains amazed that his life has been completely changed through the generosity of a stranger.

“It just hits my heart a little differently. When somebody has no clue about who I am or what I want to do but is generously donating to help me do exactly what I want to do … it just, it blows my mind that there are still people like that in the world.”

Tavarus is keeping his career options open for now, but he feels drawn to critical care. 

"My heart lies with people who are the sickest, because that's the most opportunity you have to affect change in that person's life.”