By Dr. James M. Dahle, WCI Founder

Today and tomorrow, we'll be introducing you to this year's WCI Scholarship recipients. We have been running the WCI Scholarship for medical/professional students since 2015, giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to students to directly reduce the indebtedness they face upon graduating from school.

The scholarship also serves as an opportunity to promote financial literacy among students and their faculty while providing us an opportunity to give back to the community that has given us so much.

As a reminder, this year's scholarship is divided between five winners in the “Inspirational” category and five winners in the “Financial” category, depending on the subject of their submitted essay.

This year's contest saw 701 submissions—509 in the inspirational category and 192 in the financial category. In today's post, we'll go over the winners in the inspirational category. Tomorrow, we'll cover the financial category. All 10 of these individuals are grand prize winners and split the pot of $78,410 evenly. Each winner takes home $7,841. Yes, we already have verified each winner is a student in good standing at their institution.

We also want to extend a special thank you to the dozens of volunteer judges, none of whom are part of the WCI staff.  The winners in this contest are chosen before I ever read any of the essays.

Also, here's a thank you to the sponsors who supported the program. Although WCI donates to the scholarship from its profits, the winners would receive much less money without the sponsors. Thank you for supporting those who support such a good cause.

Platinum Level Contributors ($8,000 or more)

The White Coat Investor, LLC
Larry Keller (Physician Financial Services) – Disability and Life Insurance
Bob Bhayani (Dr Disability Quotes) – Disability and Life Insurance
Laurel Road – Student Loan Refinancing
Paul Sundin (Emparion) – Workplace Retirement Plans

Gold Level Contributors ($1,500 or more)

Jon Appino (Contract Diagnostics) – Contract Review/Negotiation
Chad Chubb (WealthKeel LLC) – Financial Advising
Robert Kaplan (Kaplan Financial) – Disability and Life Insurance
Pattern – Disability and Life Insurance
Michael Relvas (MR Insurance) – Disability and Life Insurance
Dr. Robinson (Doctors Support Doctors, LLC) – Contract Review/Career Advice
Josh Mettle (Neo Home Loans) – Physician Mortgage Loans
Johanna Turner (Fox and Company Wealth Management) – Financial Advising

Silver Level Contributors 

Sandi Frith (Huntington Bank) – Physician Mortgage Loans
Thomas Hackett (NW Legacy Law) – Estate Planning

Bronze Level Contributors

Joseph Hinton
Miracle Uzoekwe

For each scholarship winner, and in no particular order, we have included an excerpt from their essay and a link to the full post published elsewhere on the site. Here are the winners in the Inspirational category.


lily nguyen

Lily Nguyen

Treating Addiction Patients in Their Own Language — Lily Nguyen

Our first winner is Lily Nguyen, a medical student at the University of Arizona, an institution near and dear to my heart. She writes an essay about how experiences with her father and other addicted patients have inspired her to expand rehabilitation programs for non-English speakers. Here's an excerpt:

“On one horrible night when his overconsumption drove my mother to call the police, she and my sister jumped from our second story balcony to escape to the neighbors. My mother made the hard decision to not take me with her and my father chose to run from the police. She always told me it was because she knew he would never hurt me. He grabbed me and we scaled a cinderblock wall, ran across a dark parking lot, and hid behind a large, brown dumpster. I remember the loud police helicopter overhead. After it disappeared, he put me on his shoulders, and we walked in the darkness.”

You can read the rest of the essay here.


nina fukuma

Nina Fukuma

The Promise of Radical Humility — Nina Fukuma

Our next winner is Nina Fukuma, a medical student at USC who wrote about a patient she met in the ED and befriended on the wards. Here's an excerpt:

“Her first admission dated back to when she was a teen, coming to the ED with postpartum endometritis after giving birth to a child, unknowing of her HIV diagnosis. Her story was sickening and often left me feeling existential, uncomfortable by the reality that such horrors existed. She had fallen through the cracks of our systems and seemed now to be immune to the attempts we made to care for her with note after note describing her history of noncompliance, aggressive behavior, and AMAs.

For as frail and sick, young and child-like, as she appeared, weighing no more than 70 pounds, her vitriol was explosive with anger. Violent curse words rattled the thin walls of her room, stunning me into silence on more than one occasion. It was exhausting to feel like the punching bag for her anger, and yet I found solace in the promise of radical humility. I sought to the best of my ability—despite the comfort and luxury of my own privileged upbringing—to engage in her suffering, to make room for it and understand it. The world had been horrible to her, handing her a life filled with unimaginable suffering.”

You can read the rest of the essay here.


emma sand

Emma Sand

Being There on the Worst Day of Someone's Life Emma Sand

Emma Sand, a medical student at Western Michigan, wrote about the accident she had while applying to medical school and how it has affected her desired career path. I enjoyed the essay because one of the things I like best about EM is being there for people on one of the worst days of their lives. Here's an excerpt:

“The car connected with my body, sending me 30 feet through the air. My recollection of the next week in the ICU is just as absent as the accident itself. My chart read: subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, liver laceration, traumatic brain injury, fractured transverse process, capitate, and hamate, among other injuries . . . I started medical school nine months later . . . Patients and their families come into the hospital and interact with the critical care team on what may possibly be the worst day of their life; I know it was mine. To be that person for someone else, the physician who is working their absolute hardest to keep their patient alive, would make all of the other challenges worth it. What an absolute privilege to be the physician who gets to do this. This is what I want my career to be.”

You can read the rest of the essay here.


omar alzayat

Omar Alzayat

Radical Acceptance as a Secret Weapon — Omar Alzayat

Omar Alzayat is a medical student at UC Davis and wrote about his experience being homeless as an undergraduate student. Here's an excerpt:

“I was supposed to be receiving financial aid from the local community college as a freshman but was denied because my father falsely claimed me as a dependent on his taxes the same year he decided to go back to his homeland of Syria. I wasn’t entirely upset with him, if I’m being honest. He worked a series of odd jobs throughout the course of my childhood, including an extended stint as an ice cream truck driver, so he wasn’t exactly flush with cash. I was more perplexed that I couldn’t receive funding for living expenses and tuition due to the fact that my father apparently made just enough money handing out SpongeBob popsicles from a truck he did not own.

Nevertheless, I found myself homeless while attempting to juggle four classes and a full-time job as a waiter, while simultaneously finding periods in between to shower at the gym and wash my clothes at a laundromat that was open at sporadic and unpredictable hours. It was my predicament to own, so I decided to shoulder it to the fullest extent. At the time, I was all too familiar with the notion of disallowing a dire circumstance to become interchangeable and synonymous with one’s identity. In my own twisted way, I was determined to embrace the opposite approach of ensuring that my struggles would become an inseparable part of my existence. Radical acceptance was my secret weapon, and I ensured that it would become the foundation of my ability to overcome failure.”

You can read the rest of the essay here.


anima shrestha

Anima Shrestha

A New Stillness in the House — Anima Shrestha

Our final winner in the inspirational category is Anima Shrestha, a medical student at the University of Colorado who wrote about her sister's disability and untimely death and how it inspired her to work with the disabled and pursue a career in pediatric neurology. Here's an excerpt:

“. . . Sisterhood wasn’t at all what I expected. My little sister was born with autism and several developmental disabilities, many of which went undiagnosed for years. Our childhood was marked by medications and confusion. Watching my sister struggle to walk, talk, and live the carefree life of children her age, all I wanted to do was alleviate her pain. As I accompanied my sister to her doctor's appointments, I began to develop an interest in medicine. The first time we visited her neurologist, he ordered an MRI, and when I saw the scan of her brain with bright blue and orange splotches, I was hooked. I decided to pursue a career in medicine to devote myself to helping my sister . . . Then, unexpectedly, my sister passed away, and my world was plunged into black and white . . . I flew back to college, partly to escape the new stillness in the house we grew up in and partly because my parents insisted I complete my last two years of college on time. But as I tried to squeeze myself back into the mold of a good pre-med student, I realized I had lost sight of the future. How could I imagine a future without her in it? It felt like betrayal.”

You can read the rest of the essay here.


Congratulations to all five of the winners in the inspirational category. May this money help you to reach your dreams without quite so much financial worry holding you back.

And make sure to check out the five winners in the Financial category.