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Leeia Fields (Class of 2025) of Douglas was recently selected as part of the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholarship Program at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) for the 2023 academic year.
MUSM selected current medical students for the scholarship based on their commitment to become pediatricians, strong ties to rural Georgia, character, leadership qualities, community involvement, and their commitment to serving in rural Georgia after their scholarship obligations are met. Rural Pediatrics Scholars will receive full tuition for up to four academic years and must maintain good academic standing.
The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholarship Program was established as part of a joint initiative between MUSM and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (Children's), which was announced in February 2023. The scholarship, along with other projects, is funded by a dedicated and long-term sustainable fund allocated by the Children's Board of Trustees.
MUSM Dean Jean Sumner, M.D., FACP said, "Most of Georgia's rural counties are without pediatricians and almost no rural counties have enough pediatricians. This scholarship, in time, will allow all Georgia's rural children to have access to the care they need close to home. We are deeply grateful for the trust in us and the commitment Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has to help rural communities."
Fields was inspired to work with children during her experience teaching Sunday school classes at the church where her father is the pastor. "I loved seeing the kids so excited to learn and finding ways to engage them in every lesson," said Fields. "I believe watching my mom as she invested so much into their lives is what sparked this passion that I have."
Fields plans to return to her hometown to give back to her community. "My teachers, my family, my church family, and my friends have all made me who I am today. It would be a privilege to go back and take care of their children and grandchildren," she added.
Leeia is wife of Taylor Fields, daughter of Matthew and Cheree McEachern, and sister of Kaylie Harper.
The 2023 Scholars were honored during a pinning ceremony on April 26 in the presence of Children's Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Fortenberry, Mercer University President William D. Underwood, Dean Sumner, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center Executive Director Glenda Grant, and scholars' families.
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