ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Brooke Benton

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.

Brooke Benton grew up in a small town called Jackson in Eastern Kentucky. She completed her undergraduate studies at Transylvania University where she studied Chemistry and Classics. She is currently a 4th year medical student at the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Before entering medical school, Brooke served as a college and career counselor at Jackson City School and a high school chemistry and physics teacher at Breathitt County High School in Jackson. While she loved Lexington, she decided to return home for medical school to be closer to family, friends and the community she loves. She originally decided to pursue medicine after attending a health careers summer camp at the University of Kentucky.

“When I was a sophomore in high school, I was invited to the University of Kentucky for a summer camp with health careers,” Brooke says. “I did a lot of shadowing and classes over the summer, and that’s really what initially drew me to medicine.”

Entering medical school, Brooke had the option to complete coursework to become a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). She ultimately chose the Osteopathic path which focuses on treating the entire body and mind rather than just the physical body.

“Osteopathic medicine just means that it’s a different philosophy,” she says. “It’s a very old tradition and I think it’s a growing one. It’s grown a lot in the last couple of years with new schools popping up all over the country.. After we graduate, we get the DO professional title after our name. We have the same practice and privilege rights as MDs. I took all the same classes and licensing board exams, and the curriculum is the same; the added benefit is the philosophy as well as training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (“OMT”). We have specific details within that philosophy about how we’re treating the whole patient’s body. We utilize OMT as a modality of treatment just as we might prescribe a medication or do a surgical procedure; this is a noninvasive and conservative approach to relieving dysfunction within the musculoskeletal system to better enable the body to heal itself from various ailments, be it back pain, headaches, acid reflux, etc. ”

This concept of treating the entire body and using a more holistic approach to healthcare intrigued Brooke. She has always had a passion for science, but as she began working more with patients, she developed a passion for the personal aspects of healthcare.

“Honestly, I didn’t know a whole lot about osteopathic medicine before I enrolled in medical school in Pikeville – I just wanted to go to medical school and really wanted to be close to my family,” Brooke says. “The more I delved into the history and philosophy behind it, I realized it’s something that is really easy to get on board with. We all want to be treated as a person. We don’t want to be treated as a lab value or an x-ray. I liked talking to people and learning about their stories, and that’s been a fun component of this as well. Learning more about people – where they come from, what motivates them – that goes over well with patients because we all want to be heard. That fits well with my goals and my career.”

Brooke has had several mentors throughout her life including her mother and two women who have served as examples in the medical field.

“My mom has been a big supporter and having her presence has been a big help,” she says, “Med school is busy. I don’t have a lot of time to do the normal running errands and keeping house work. She always listens if I’ve had a bad day or helps if I need something, so it’s great having that support system. Dr. Joanna Santiesteban, MD , an OB/GYN in Auxier, KY at Physicians for Women, has been a great mentor who guided me when I first was interested in the field of OB/GYN and trained me during my third year of med school for clerkship. What I know about the basics of OB/GYN, I learned from Dr. S. Dr. Holly Gallion, MD introduced me to a subspecialty within OB/GYN, gynecologic oncology. She taught me not just how to be a surgeon but how to treat people. I got ‘How to be a Surgeon 101’ from her, and I also learned how to take care of patients and make them feel like they’re more than just a medical record. At the end of the day that’s what we’re all about.”

Since entering medical school, Brooke has had the chance to complete clinical rotations all over the country. This has allowed her to gain experience in various hospital atmospheres preparing her for anything she faces as a physician. She was completing her rounds during a shift at the University of Kentucky when she learned she had been named an ARH Scholar.

“I was just at the hospital taking care of my patients [when I got the news], so it was a nice surprise,” she says. “It was a difficult week, so it was nice to have good news. I was very excited and honestly a little bit surprised, but good surprised. This scholarship means I will have freedom to advance my career without the stress of extra loan money.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

After completing her residency, Brooke plans to return to Eastern Kentucky to practice as an OB/GYN. She is excited to offer care to women and their families, some of whom only ever visit the OB/GYN for care. Her heart is in the Appalachian region with the community she loves. She believes if the people in her hometown need her, it does not make sense to go elsewhere to practice.

“I just really want to take care of women and their families,” she says. “It’s about bringing awareness to women’s health issues. For a long time, there was a stigma associated with having a ‘female problem’ and it’s something we don’t really talk openly about. If someone has high blood pressure or diabetes, we’ll talk about that. But when women are coming to their providers, there’s a certain hesitancy, even with their providers who they trust, to discuss these issues. I really hope I can help to break down these barriers. If I can hit a targeted population that may not be getting preventative care elsewhere, I want to fill that gap.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Lauren McCurry

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.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Sarah Hoskins

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.

Sarah Hoskins grew up in a family full of medical professionals. From a young age her family instilled the importance of working in the healthcare field and the impact they make every day. Her mother, great aunt and cousin all work for ARH. It’s only fitting that Sarah carry on her family’s ARH connection as an ARH Scholar.

“I have a lot of family members who work at ARH, so growing up seeing them helping so many people and enjoying their jobs really inspired me to do the same,” she says.

She graduated from Belle County High School and is now a sophomore nursing major at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) where she is also on the cheerleading team. She is from Middlesboro, Kentucky, where she lives with her father who is a teacher at Yellow Creek School Center, her mother who works for Middlesboro ARH, her brother, and their poodle named Pepper. Spending her entire life in the Eastern Kentucky area has fostered a passion for the community she calls home.

Sarah originally learned about the ARH Scholars program from her mother. She saw a flyer for the program posted at Middlesboro ARH during one of her shifts and encouraged Sarah to apply.

“I felt really relieved and extremely excited when I found out I was an ARH Scholar. I think this program is a wonderful thing that allows students to stress less about the financial aspect of school and focus more on their future careers so they can be the best they can be on their career path.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

Aside from her family’s extensive medical field background, Sarah’s passion for nursing was sparked after a deeply personal experience with an incredible team of nurses.

“I chose nursing for many reasons, but the main reason is because I saw how nurses at Middlesboro ARH helped my late grandmother through her battle with cancer,” she says. “They were really comforting and treated her with the utmost respect. It really showed me how much of an impact they can have on someone’s life. I want to be that for someone.”

Sarah is excited for the opportunity to make a lasting impact in Eastern Kentucky. After her graduation in 2021 she hopes to obtain a position as a registered nurse, possibly with ARH. She says she is open to furthering her education to become a Nurse Anesthetist and is excited to see where her career takes her.

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Nancy Dye

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.

Nancy Dye has always been an incredibly driven individual. At the age of 16 she was able to begin college early as a student at Big Sandy Community and Technical College where she studied nursing. In fall 2017 she began working for McDonald’s where she says she grew a lot as a person and became more independent. By the age of 18 she graduated from BSCTC, something she says she could not have done without the support of her family.

“My family has shaped me into who I am today and I don’t believe I would have made it this far without them,” Nancy says. “They pushed me to make straight A’s when I felt like giving up and taught me that you never succeed unless you try.”

She is excited to begin classes at University of Pikeville this fall pursuing a RN-BSN degree. Her anticipated graduation year is 2023, but she is debating returning to obtain her Master’s Degree.

“I chose nursing because all I’ve worked towards in life is helping other people,” she says. “I want to do something that is challenging, interesting, and rewarding with my future and make a difference in people’s lives on an everyday basis. I feel that the nursing profession would allow me to do exactly that. I want to help people through difficult times and give them the assistance needed when no one else can.”

Nancy says her mother has served as her biggest mentor throughout life and her career. She has served as a constant source of encouragement through every stage of Nancy’s life.

“She’s always told me, ‘You can do anything you dream of as long as you set your mind to it.’ And that couldn’t be more true,” Nancy says. “I’ve lived by this every day, and I’m truly happy with the decisions I’ve made in my life. Thanks to my mom, I’ve been shaped into a successful woman who only dreams of helping others.”

Nancy learned about the ARH Scholars program through Facebook. She is very thankful for ARH’s efforts to spread the word about this scholarship program to inform the largest number of potential applicants possible.

“Since I’ve already graduated [and I’m about to go back to school] I don’t have connections to hear about scholarships anymore,” she says. “I was ecstatic when I found a scholarship related to the medical field that I could actually apply for. It has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders. One of my biggest fears is student loans and ARH Scholars has helped rid me of that. I couldn’t be happier to have received this award.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

Nancy is excited to begin this journey toward completing her nursing education and making a difference for the people in her community.

“I’m so excited to get out there and help those who need it,” Nancy says. “To me, that’s what life’s all about. Just seeing people in need hurts my soul. I want to be able to give back and step out of my comfort zone. It would be a privilege to help people when they’re most vulnerable and have no one else. I can’t wait to be part of a team whose number one priority is treating patients with the best care.”

Nancy clearly has a passion for nursing. Through her education and training she hopes to become the best nurse she can be, offering care to those who truly need it.

“I want my patients to know how much I care about them and how passionate I am about my work,” she says. “I can’t wait to see the smile on those patients faces that I help. The satisfaction that it will bring me is unbelievable. I could save a life and that itself is an amazing accomplishment and something that I’ll look forward to everyday.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Conner Leisge

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.

Connor Leisge grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky, and he’s setting himself up to give back to that same community. He’s currently enrolled in the College of Dentistry at the University of Kentucky (UK). Connor decided to pursue the medical field in high school after his positive experience with the nurses and doctors who cared for him during a long hospital visit.

“When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a major chest reconstructive surgery done,” Connor says. “I had a condition called pectus excavatum, a birth defect in your sternum which makes it curve inward like you’ve got a hole in your chest. I was very self-conscious about it, which is why it took me so long to seek treatment. While I was in the hospital, the nurses, the doctors, everybody was fantastic. As hard as the experience was physically, emotionally I was perfectly stable because the nurses and doctors were so great.”

Overall, Connor spent 33 days with the medical staff. While many might choose to focus on the obvious negatives of a lengthy hospital stay, post-major surgery, Connor was simply grateful for the caregivers and medical staff who encouraged him daily on his road to healing and recovery.

“That was pretty life changing,” Connor says. “It definitely sparked my interest in the medical field. I wanted to give back and help people’s lives like mine was helped.”

Pursuing higher education in healthcare has always been a goal of Connor’s and he’s thankful to ARH for helping him along this path. His biggest inspiration comes from his grandfather, who instilled in him the determination to pursue this goal.

“At a young age, my grandfather made the importance of education apparent for me and my cousins,” he says. “His story of barely getting through high school but then getting his degree in education and later becoming principal and superintendent in Pineville, Kentucky, was a big inspiration for me.”

This motivation to make higher learning a priority led Connor to dentistry, a field he described as the obvious career path to follow.

“One thing I cherished growing up was that I had very good hand skills,” Connor says. “I loved to draw, I loved artsy things. It just clicked in high school that I had good hand skills and it took good hand skills to be a dentist.”

Connor found out about the ARH Scholars program through his girlfriend, who is also an ARH Scholar. When he found out he won, Connor was delighted ARH valued his determination to give back to his hometown in Harlan through volunteerism and the dental services he hopes to one day provide.

“A lot of people in Harlan that I know can’t wait to get out of here and never come back,” he says. “I’m glad ARH noticed that I feel differently. I want to build it up to be something to be proud of.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

So far on his route to becoming a dentist, Connor has volunteered with Mission Lexington, an organization dedicated to giving dental care to Lexington residents at or below the poverty line. He’s also worked with children as part of the dental program at UK, which is important to him, as he wants to act as an inspiration to the future generation of Harlan County.

“I want to point out to kids that just because they’re from somewhere like Harlan, becoming a dentist or a doctor isn’t unobtainable,” Connor says. “If they want to do that, they should go
for it.”

Connor eventually intends to open his own practice in Harlan County, with a mission for his practice to be a positive force in both the community and the medical field overall.

“I want to be able to build relationships with my patients and get rid of the negative stigma of going to the doctor,” he says. “I want to build people’s self-confidence up, to make them healthier physically but also mentally.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Hannah Busroe

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.

Hannah Busroe was born and raised in Harlan County, Kentucky, surrounded by a family with deep roots in the healthcare field. Her grandfather on her mother’s side, Dr. Albino Nunez, worked for Harlan ARH after immigrating to the United States from the Philippines. After earning his degree in the Philippines, his family pulled together the money to send him to New Orleans to live the American dream. There he met his wife, Hannah’s grandmother, and together they moved to Appalachia.

“Originally, he couldn’t speak any English, but he met my grandmother and they ended up falling in love and getting married. That’s how my family was formed,” Hannah says. “My grandparents sat down and decided where they could go and use their services to create the most good. They ended up in Harlan County and they came here with nothing. They had three children, my mom who became a pharmacist, my uncle who became a dentist and my aunt who became a nurse, and they all ended up coming back to Harlan.”

Hannah grew up down the street from her grandparents where her family would have Sunday dinner full of conversation about community involvement and their careers in healthcare. This experience sparked her interest in the medical field and she began exploring opportunities by working in her mother’s pharmacy.

“I kind of always knew I would go into the medical field,” she says. “I can remember when I was young my grandfather would sit me on his lap and we would look through his medical books that he created himself. When he was in school in the Philippines, he couldn’t afford his textbooks so he had to go to the library and hand copy or hand draw all of the material so he could study. I just remember thinking about how much of a commitment that must have been. Now that he has passed away those books are an example to me and my family that hard work pays off and sometimes it’s not easy, but he made it.”

Hannah initially attended the University of Kentucky (UK) to obtain her undergraduate degree in Human Health Sciences with a plan to later study Pharmacy. After shadowing a Pharmacist through a program at UK, she realized it was not the career path for her.

“It wasn’t as hands-on as I was used to seeing at my mom’s business,” she says. “I hit that point where I told my mom I didn’t like every aspect of pharmacy. She sat me down and told me if I didn’t like everything about the job then it may not be the career for me. That following summer I shadowed an Optometrist in Middlesboro, Kentucky, and I just knew it was the program for me.”

Knowing there was a slim chance she would receive early acceptance, Hannah applied for the Optometry program at the University of Pikeville (UPIKE) before completing her undergraduate studies at UK.

“I just kind of put all of my eggs in one basket and figured if I got accepted then I could go ahead and go and if not then I would finish at UK and try again to get into UPIKE,” she says. “All of the pieces just put themselves together and I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be on the career path I’m supposed to be on.”

In July 2018, she began the Optometry program at UPIKE and is set to graduate in May 2022. She is excited to study something she is truly passionate about at a university that allows her to stay close to home in the community she loves. After just about six months in the program Hannah has been immersed in the world of optometry through mission trips to Jamaica and Guatemala. These experiences have allowed her to see the kind of impact she can make through her work.

“Working in optometry, I’m able to help someone who may not even be able to provide for their family because of blindness that can be treated by simply giving them glasses,” she says. “Giving them that opportunity is such an awesome power to have in this profession. I have worn glasses and contacts since third grade and I can only imagine how life would have been if I hadn’t been able to see and live a daily life. Knowing that through Optometry I can help children proceed in their education and not fall behind is such an exciting thing for me.”

In addition to seeing the impact of optometry through hands-on experience, Hannah has a family connection motivating her. Her grandfather on her father’s side is going blind from Macular Degeneration. Seeing the impact that has had on his life motivates her to work hard in her program to help prevent those sorts of conditions.

When she received the news that she was chosen as a Fall 2018 ARH Scholar, Hannah was extremely excited. Her application was a very quick turnaround as she learned about the program just one week before the application deadline.

“I was just scrolling through Facebook and saw an ad about the program,” Hannah says. “I looked at the requirements and thought this was important for me to apply for because ARH is important to me and my family, but they employ so many people here in Harlan. I was able to get all of the materials together at the last minute and apply. I was very excited to find out all of that hard work paid off. It’s so relieving to know that there are other people beyond myself and my family who believe in me and my abilities who are pushing me to continue my education and career.”

After graduation Hannah is unsure of what her next step will be. She is interested in continuing her education to allow her to offer services beyond comprehensive exams. Regardless of her decision, she plans to return home to Harlan and eventually open her own practice.

“I think the biggest thing is just to serve Appalachia and give people who are challenged by vision deficiencies and difficulties the gift of sight,” Hannah says. “I think it’s something that a lot of people take for granted because we don’t think about how much we rely on our sight for everything from cooking to working and driving and even the smallest things. Knowing I can make a difference in a child’s life or an elderly patient’s life as their vision begins to decline is huge. Having the opportunity to give people sight with my knowledge is a huge opportunity and something I hope to do to my fullest capacity.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Zachary Grimmett

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.

Zachary Grimmett is a Belfry, Kentucky native and Belfry High School graduate. He is currently attending University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) while working as a Pharmacist Intern at Tug Valley ARH. In this role Zachary is gaining experience with both inpatient and outpatient pharmacy work. This means he gets the opportunity to work on the hospital floor and in more of a traditional pharmacy setting. Before beginning this journey, he worked at Food City grocery store where he learned basic customer service skills that he has carried into this new career.

“My position at Tug Valley ARH has helped me tremendously in school and in life,” says Zachary. “Even the retail experience I had in the grocery store has transferred so well into the medical field. Before I was working with customers in a retail setting, and now I’m working with patients, but the communication strategies I learned have transferred so well into my future endeavors.”

Zachary has always had an interest in the medical field. However, he was first introduced to pharmacy after taking part in the medical exploration program that Tug Valley ARH hosted at his high school. Motivated by the potential impact he can make, Zachary is excited to continue his career in Pharmacy after graduating from UCSOP in May 2020.

“My mother was a medical transcriptionist, so since I was a kid I’ve been exposed to the healthcare field, physicians and doctors, listening to their speech and seeing how they work with patients. Pharmacy really interested me because their scope of practice was for the treatment of people and that is really my goal, to make people better. I know that sounds really simplistic, but it’s so touching to think that is my goal in life. Through medical treatments I can help give my patients a better quality of life.”

He is lucky to have a great support system in his family and friends. Aside from his family offering insight into the medical field, his close-knit friend group supports each other through every endeavor.

“I’ve had a lot of influential people in my life from friends to family and coworkers,” Zachary says. “My coworkers always support me, encourage and educate me, and I look up to them because of how they treat their patients. As for friends, I’m from a small community and I have a circle of friends who all support each other regardless of our career path. I also look up to my family because on one side I have coal miners and people who did a lot of hard physical labor and I respect that and want to be the hard worker that they are. On the other side I have managers of corporations and I look up to them because they have run successful businesses.”

As a first time ARH Scholars applicant, Zachary was ecstatic to learn he was a recipient. He is thankful that ARH sees the value in offering programming like this to encourage people in the community to pursue an education and career in healthcare.

“I was really shocked, but thrilled and blessed when I found out I was an ARH Scholar because I thought since I was a first time applicant they might just overlook me,” he says. “When I found out, it was such an overwhelming feeling. I was actually on a trip when I got the news and I just stopped everything I was doing and had an emotional moment.”

While Zachary is not completely sure what path he will take after graduation, he’s excited to serve his community regardless of his decision. He is interested in continuing his education to obtain board certification in both pharmacotherapy and critical care. These certifications will allow him to offer an even higher level of care to his patients.

“I would really like to work for ARH because it feels like home to me. It’s in my community and it has always been our local hospital,” he says. “I hope to make an impact on every patient’s life I come in contact with, whether that be an inpatient or outpatient setting. I hope to make a difference for each patient individually, but also on a grand scale. I want to improve the community as a whole by creating a higher quality of life and better health outcomes for everyone.”

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Cheyna McCoy

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.

Cheyna McCoy is excited to be the only high school student named a Fall 2018 ARH Scholar. As a senior at Leslie County High School she is extremely involved in school taking AP and college credit classes and running track. In her free time Cheyna loves to read, listen to music and explore the beautiful hiking trails around her hometown of Hyden, Kentucky.

She says she has always had a passion for caring for and being there for others in a time of need. This passion is what originally sparked her interest in the medical field. After graduation in May 2019, Cheyna plans to attend the University of the Cumberlands to study Psychology. Like many other ARH Scholars, Cheyna is excited to use her skills to give back to the community she calls home.

“I was compelled to take this path from living in a community that struggles with drug abuse,” she says. “It’s my dream to contribute in my community’s solution to this problem. I believe studying psychology will give me a better understanding of people in order to reach this goal.”

Throughout her life, and as she enters her college career, Cheyna says her family have served as her biggest mentors. She wouldn’t be in the position she is today without their constant love and support.

“They have always encouraged me to be the best I can be and pushed me to beat my limits,” she says.

She has already started flexing her healthcare muscles by volunteering with a local nursing home where she spends time with residents, talking and singing with them. She even takes the time to send the residents cards for special occasions and holidays.

She was very excited after learning she had been named a Fall 2018 ARH Scholar via an email from ARH Scholars Program Coordinator, Danya Anderson.

“I felt an overwhelming happiness and ran into my mom and dad’s room to tell them the news,” Cheyna says. “I woke up the next morning to my best friend FaceTiming me, congratulating me and saying they saw the news on Facebook.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

Cheyna is excited to continue making an impact in her local community through her work. After graduating from the University of the Cumberlands she hopes to begin working as a clinical psychologist and work her way up to Psychiatrist. Through this work she will help patients by identifying, treating and preventing mental disorders and issues.

“I hope to help the people of Appalachia fight for better lives that they deserve,” she says.

ARH Scholars Fall 2018 Winner: Sasha Engle

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 Eastern Kentucky healthcare.

Sasha Engle has been working toward this goal for over 10 years and is now pursuing a nursing degree as part of the partnership between ARH and Galen College of Nursing.

“Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” Sasha says. “I worked as a CNA for 10 years, four of which were at Whitesburg ARH. I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field and wanted to grow my career. ARH is all I ever knew growing up, it’s the only hospital around us. When I got the job it felt like I was working with family. The atmosphere is that down home care where you know their only goal is to help the community and give back.”

Sasha was born and raised by her father and grandmother in Linefork, Kentucky just outside of Whitesburg. Her father taught her the importance of hard work and dedication at a young age. Unfortunately, her father lost his life working as a coal miner when she was young, but his lesson prevailed throughout her life. Sasha has worked hard for everything she has accomplished in her career and life. Starting in the food service industry at the age of 16, Sasha has worked her way up – and she’s not done yet.

“My dad was my biggest mentor throughout my life,” Sasha says. “Even from the grave he’s been the biggest mentor for me. He taught me that nothing will ever be given to me, hard work, determination and never giving up will help me succeed in life. My kids keep me going too. They’re a handful, but they’re the motivation to keep me going.”

She says her family and community serve as motivation as she grows in her career. She has been married to her husband for 10 years and they have two children, an eight year old girl and three year old boy both born on the same day.

Sasha is now one of 10 students throughout the 12 ARH communities named a Fall 2018 Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholar. This award will allow her to continue her pursuit of making healthcare more accessible throughout Eastern Kentucky. As a first time applicant, she was ecstatic, proud and admittedly a bit shocked when she received the news that she was a recipient.

“I received an email congratulating me for being an ARH Scholars winner and I thought it was a joke,” she says. “I soon realized it was real and I felt so grateful for the opportunity to apply and win among many different contestants. They felt that I was great enough to win this, represent my community and show people that a mom of two can go on to pursue her dreams. Being a mom does not knock you down from doing what you want to do.”

“The scholars are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 73 applicants with 10 finalists awarded.”

Sasha is grateful and excited for this opportunity and the doors it will open for her career. Once she graduates from Galen College of Nursing in October 2019 she hopes to continue working for ARH. Ultimately, she plans to obtain her BSN in the future.

“I just want people to know that when they are in my care I will treat them like family and I will always be in their corner fighting and advocating for them,” she says. “I want my patients and community to know I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and see me as a great asset to the ARH team.”

Trena Hall

ARH Women in Leadership Series: Trena Hall

The women in leadership for Appalachian Regional Healthcare are a diverse group of strong, accomplished, intelligent women. Despite having these characteristics in common, each of them is unique, taking on a completely different set of responsibilities and challenges when they walk through the doors of ARH each day. From administrative responsibilities, to nursing and caring for patients, to the creation of new initiatives allowing ARH’s reach to grow, these women are nothing short of incredible.

The Director of Corporate Projects, Trena Hall is one of the main players in the expansion of ARH throughout eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Her 40 plus years at ARH have fostered a passion and commitment to fulfilling the organization’s mission.

Trena’s journey with ARH began as a nurse at Whitesburg ARH Hospital, where she spent the first 13 years of her career. Her work ethic and success as a nurse prompted ARH leadership to promote Trena to a management role. From there she took on several other leadership roles, including Assistant Director of Nursing, Assistant Administrator and CEO at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center and CEO of McDowell ARH Hospital. She has implemented a number of programs and key services during her time at ARH including the Open Heart Program, Inpatient Rehab Program, and Cancer Center in Hazard.

“I often tell my husband that I feel really blessed,” Trena says. “I absolutely love my job. It’s so wonderful to bring a group of very diverse people together and help them achieve their goals. I work with everyone from nurses and doctors all the way to construction workers and engineers. It’s truly rewarding being able to see that final result knowing this new or improved healthcare service is going to make a difference to patient care, the people who work in those environments and the entire community. You can’t put a price on that.”

There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the employees of ARH. Many of the women in leadership, including Trena, said their favorite thing about ARH is the people they get to work with every day.

“I can’t begin to tell you how rich my life has been because of the people who have been a part of it along the way,” Trena says. “Any organization, I don’t care what kind it is, is only as good as it’s people and it’s mission. I believe in the mission of ARH, I think the services we provide in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia are critical to our communities. It’s our community, the people we serve and the employees who make it a pleasure to come to work every day. When you work with wonderful people it’s easy to be happy at work.”

Trena recalls an instance when she was out in the community and an individual she cared for during her time as a nurse recognized her.

“He said, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I had no idea who the gentleman was, but he remembered me,” Trena says. “The gentleman had been in a terrible accident and I remember that we thought he was going to die. He remembered me because he remembers me telling him to hang on. It wasn’t necessarily what I did for him that he remembered, it was that I talked to him, and he needed that. He needed someone to tell him to fight.”

This encounter illustrates the amount of impact healthcare workers can have on a daily basis.

“It goes to the crux of what we do. It’s about that man and all the others like him. I’m just one little piece in this huge puzzle and I think that’s what matters.”

Trena’s career success is, in part, due to her parent’s encouragement throughout her life. They served as her biggest mentors because of their optimism, encouragement, and determination.

“I can remember being very young and my dad telling me I could be anything I wanted to be…I graduated from high school in 1974 and I didn’t realize at the time, because my father was so open about us doing whatever we wanted to do, that gender might make a difference in what I could do in a career,” Trena says. “My parents were very focused on us developing a personal level of integrity, being honest and open, working hard and communicating well. Those things have helped shape my life and my career.”

Trena passed along this same sense of perseverance to her children, and now her grandchildren who are nine and 14-years-old.

“The thing that matters most in life is having a strong faith and I try very hard to put God first in my life and trust what He has planned for us,” she says. “I’ve talked to them about the importance of the kind of person they become. All the money and power in the world won’t make them happy. What makes a person truly successful is leaving your mark, making a difference in the world and doing it with joy.”

When she is not working Trena loves to spend time with her kids and grandchildren at the lake, a place she says they stumbled upon almost by accident. ARH is something like a family business for the Hall’s. When her son was hired as Assistant Administrator at Middlesboro ARH Hospital his family moved to accommodate his career change. Trena says they would travel through Powell Valley on their way to visit and fell in love with the lake and surrounding area.

“I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and I’ve been a few places,” she says. “I’ve been to Alaska and it was gorgeous, but I just thought that valley was beautiful. I found my little slice of heaven and I think we’ll probably retire there.”

Although her son has since been promoted, Trena and her husband continue to visit Powell Valley every chance they get.

When asked what advice she has for a young woman interested in entering the medical field she had this to say:

“I think they really need to do their homework and make sure they understand the field they’re getting into. If they’re going into a clinical role they need to feel a passion for what they do because it’s a tough job. If they’re going into healthcare administration they need to understand that healthcare administration is arguably one of the toughest business leadership roles you can take. There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you are really determined and never give up. Perform the best you can, be the best you can be at what you do and be willing to work hard.”