University of the Cumberlands wishes to congratulate Kara Rebennack, a graduate student from Cincinnati, Ohio, on being selected as part of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program Class of 2021! Kara is pursuing her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) at Cumberlands’ Northern Kentucky campus.

“This is a very prestigious award, definitely one worth celebrating,” said Elizabeth Barnes, PA-C, director of didactic education at Cumberlands’ Northern Kentucky campus and Kara’s advisor. “Kara is a stand-out student in our Cohort 2. We are so proud of her!”

Thousands of healthcare service students across the country apply for acceptance into the NHSC Scholarship Program, but only approximately 10 percent are selected. Prospective winners complete a long process of applications, essays, letters of recommendation, and other paperwork for the chance to be chosen. In exchange for one year of scholarship support, those who are awarded a scholarship commit to a minimum of two years of full-time service at an NHSC-approved site providing primary care health services.

The financial assistance from the program covers tuition costs as well as eligible fees and living expenses. For Kara, the scholarship will cover about $112,000 by the time she finishes PA school in 2023. She couldn’t be more thankful.

She said, “I’m sincerely honored and grateful to have been selected as an NHSC scholarship recipient. It has instilled more confidence in my abilities as an aspiring PA, further solidifying my passion to serve in areas where health care services are needed most.”

Despite being the youngest child, Kara took on the role of caretaker for her older brother and sister. The three grew up in a single-mother household, so the kids took on extra responsibility around the house. Kara vividly remembers preparing her brother’s nebulizer during his asthma attacks, consoling her sister when she felt frantic, and cleaning her brother’s face when his nose got broken. As a young adult, she took in a close friend when he decided to quit heroin and rode the physical and emotional waves of withdrawal alongside him until they found a good rehab facility and checked him in. (He has been in active recovery, drug-free, for approximately four years.)

Beginning in high school, Kara immersed herself in medicine of all kinds. As a teenager, she shadowed various healthcare professionals, volunteered at local hospitals, and participated in student practicums. She completed a bachelor’s degree in chemical science with a minor in psychology at Xavier University in 2017 before pursuing a graduate certificate in health care administration from the University of Cincinnati. During her graduate work, she gained valuable research and work experience leading and assisting in research that continues to change the standard of care for critically injured patients as well as the operating procedures of the United States Air Force for the transport of seriously injured casualties. She was also the lead coordinator for 10 medical studies. Kara is a certified clinical research professional (CCRP) and looks forward to earning her certification as a physician assistant in a couple of years.

“Collectively, the experiences fostered empathy and resilience within me, fueling my fervor to pursue a life caring for others in medicine,” Kara said. “I have a passion for serving others, and a career as a PA aligns with my goals and allows me to make the greatest impact.”

Though Kara is keeping an open mind about where specifically she wants to practice as a PA following her certification, she is interested in serving rural communities in particular.