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The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has awarded a combined $315,000 to 12 health sciences students from across West Virginia to help pay for their education, including three area students. 

The awards are part of the state’s Health Sciences Service Program.

Brennan Wood from Greenbrier County, who graduated from West Virginia University, was awarded for his efforts in dentistry; Janet Kowalsky from Monroe County, who graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, was awarded for her efforts in medicine; and Stephanie Mooney from Fayette County, who graduated from Concord University, was awarded for her efforts in social work. 

Since its inception, the program has provided $3.1 million in funding to help 229 awardees cover education expenses in exchange for a commitment to practice in a rural or underserved community in West Virginia following their graduation.

These health care professionals practice in places such as community health centers, rural health clinics and long-term care facilities.

“The financial support provided through the Health Sciences Service Program is critical to meeting the health care needs of our communities throughout West Virginia,” said Commission Interim Chancellor, Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker. “The grants not only provide much needed assistance for the health care professionals receiving them, but also to those in areas of the state where health care services are minimal or not at all.

"The commitment of these award recipients to providing quality health services to all West Virginians should be applauded.”

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in the final year of a health professions graduate program and studying to become dentists, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, nurse midwives, pharmacists, physical therapists, primary care and emergency medicine physicians, physician assistants, doctoral psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

The Commission’s Division of Health Sciences administers the awards, which this year total $315,000 and range from $15,000 to $30,000 per student.

Recipients were selected based on their academic achievements and demonstration of a strong commitment to advancing rural health and the health care of underserved populations. 

For more information about the Health Sciences Service Program, visit the state’s free college-planning website at cfwv.com.

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH 

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