The Fall 2018 class of Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholars includes students from all over the region, in various stages of life with one common goal – to make a difference in healthcare throughout Appalachia. Twice a year, students from across the region are invited to apply for the ARH Scholars program. Recipients are awarded a $5,000 academic scholarship to pursue a degree in healthcare.
Lauren McCurry is setting out to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. Originally from Harlan County, Lauren graduated from Harlan County High School as valedictorian. She is now an honors student at Western Kentucky University (WKU) studying Communication Sciences and Disorders. School and community involvement are very important to her as she is the finance assistant of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), the American Sign Language Organization (ASLD), Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Christian Student Fellowship, and Circle of Sisterhood Foundation.
There have been several influences in Lauren’s life that sparked her interest in the medical field. Both of her parents are healthcare professionals whom she says instilled strong work ethic and dedication to everything she does. In addition, her brother was born with profound to severe lateral hearing loss. She says he has had a major impact on her life and inspired her to enter this field of study.
“All my life I’ve witnessed how [my parents’] careers have allowed them to fulfill their passions for serving others,” Lauren says. “I truly believe that both my parents have a servant heart and this is something I share with them, so I just knew a career in healthcare was for me.”
Lauren gushes about her mother, Terry McCurry, emphasizing what an incredible person and healthcare professional she is and how she has impacted her life in ways she cannot even express.
“My mom is such a hard worker, she loves and cares for everyone she meets,” Lauren says. “She’s a wonderful mom, an incredible wife, a gifted nurse, my best friend and everything that I aspire to be one day. Her impact on my life can best be summarized through the song I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack. When I was a child my mom chose this song to emphasize an important message and my daily reminder to experience the life that I’ve been blessed with. There are so many opportunities out there by which we can learn and grow and help others, so when we get the choice to sit it out or dance, the hope is that we would dance, step out of our comfort zone and take chances that we would not normally take; that we would persevere through the hard times and never give up on our dreams.”
In addition to her family connections to the healthcare field, Lauren has had the opportunity to work closely with Gail Murray, a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) for ARH.
“I have had so many opportunities to shadow her,” Lauren says. “She’s been a constant source of encouragement, especially when I applied to the program, and even now that I’m in the program.”
Lauren originally heard about the ARH Scholars program through her mother. As an ARH employee, Terry receives an email newsletter where she saw an ad about the program. Lauren was ecstatic and a bit shocked when she found out she was a winner.
“Funny story, I was actually scrolling through Facebook one morning and I saw a story that ARH posted and I was listed as one of the ARH Scholars,” she says. “I eventually received an email and then letter in the mail. I just remember being so overwhelmed with emotion. ARH has provided so many wonderful opportunities for me and my family over the years, so being selected as a ARH scholar is just icing on the cake for the stage of life I’m in right now. It’s truly an honor and a blessing that will help me to fulfill my dreams of pursuing a career in healthcare.”
After graduation Lauren says she plans to return to her hometown, Harlan, Kentucky, to provide healthcare services to the Appalachian community.
“The sky’s the limit,” she says. “I don’t know what God has planned for me right now. Ultimately my goal is to help improve the quality of life for those in need of healthcare services, specifically those needing speech therapy services.”
Lauren is beyond thankful for the opportunity to become an ARH Scholar and hopes to one day make the same type of impact ARH is making in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia.
“ARH scholars is such an incredible opportunity to help students that are in the pursuit of education within healthcare,” Lauren says. “It’s also a great opportunity for ARH to encourage the return of professionals to provide quality healthcare within the ARH community. I’m just so thankful for ARH’s dedication and support for college students like myself.”