Pritzker student one of 11 to win AMA scholarshipBy Katie Brandt
Medical Center Communications
“Eye doctor—that was my thing when I was 5,” said Aisha Reuler, a second-year student in the Pritzker School of Medicine. “I wanted to cure blindness.”
Reuler, who grew up in Houston, is one of only 11 medical students across the country that the American Medical Association Foundation has awarded a $10,000 scholarship.
The scholarship is specifically for minority scholars in their second year of medical school. Less than 7 percent of U.S. physicians comprise these minority groups, which include African American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino. The scholarship should help significantly. According to the AMA, future physicians graduate with an average $130,000 in debt.
“To be recognized and rewarded is pretty great,” Reuler said. “I’m honored; my family is very proud.”
William McDade, Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs in the Office of Medical Education in the Pritzker School of Medicine, nominated Reuler for the award, and she completed the process by submitting a personal statement, her transcripts and a letter of recommendation.
In her personal statement, she discussed her grandmother, who died over a year ago from complications of diabetes and hypertension. When her grandmother was sick, she did not always receive the medical attention she needed.
“I want people to be advocates for and understand their own health,” Reuler said. When that happens, the overall well-being of people living in communities with disparate health status, such as Chicago’s South Side, might not be viewed as hopeless, she said.
Reuler stood out among applicants because of her dedication to tutoring, research and leadership in organizations, including the University’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association. Last year, in addition to her weekday workload, Reuler also spent Saturdays helping seventh graders at Daniel Hale Williams Medical Preparatory School with their science fair projects.
“A lot of them had really high hopes for their projects,” she said. “It was cool to see kids in seventh grade who already knew that they wanted to be doctors.”
Not even Reuler is certain what she wants to specialize in—though she has broadened her scope since age 5, when her dream was to cure blindness. As she transitions into her third year of medical schooling, she will start rotations in the Medical Center, which will perhaps lead her to the best choice.