MEDICAL doctor Melissa Lalah has a lot to be grateful for, including the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund scholarship she received to complete her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree.
“I received the scholarship the week before my final exams in my last semester of medical school. I had sent out many applications to various institutions and my prayers were answered when the CHASE Fund responded to a letter I sent seeking financial assistance,” she shared.
She says that the CHASE Fund was happy to assist her because she had shown tremendous potential, having matriculated to her final year in medical school at The University of the West Indies, Mona.
She believes that the CHASE Fund also assisted her because it wanted to contribute to the health sector in every possible way during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The scholarship application process was simple and included filling out an online application form, submitting my résumé and transcript, as well as attending an interview. The scholarship required a minimum yearly grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 as well as community and extra-curricular involvement,” the young doctor recalled.
She shared that the community service requirement of the CHASE Fund scholarship was greatly welcomed by her, because of her passion for charity.
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“My passion for giving back was instilled in me from a very young age by my grandparents, founding members of the Lions Club of Spanish Town. I often took part in their activities, and their love of helping others followed me during my time at Campion College where I was a part of multiple clubs and held numerous leadership positions. One of my fondest memories included being the chairperson of the committee for Campion College’s Kick Butts Day, an anti-tobacco campaign,” Dr Lalah said.
On her passion for medicine, the newly commissioned medical doctor pointed out that her time spent with the Lion Clubs of Spanish Town helped to inspire her to attain her goal.
“While growing up, I saw doctors giving back through the Lions Club of Spanish Town by volunteering at its health fairs. It was always interesting to me how they used various instruments and their knowledge to help diagnose and manage illnesses. Coupled with my love of the sciences, this nurtured my plans to one day become a doctor. I felt this was God’s calling for me and I have never envisioned myself in another profession,” she said.
Dr Lalah shared that her long-term career goal is to specialise in either obstetrics and gynaecology or orthopaedics.
She described the support from the CHASE Fund as a huge blessing.
“When I received the scholarship there were tears of joy from both my family and me. I was in my final few weeks leading up to exams and we had tried every possible source for funding. Some institutions did not even reply. We prayed and asked God for guidance,” she said.
“I had already taken off a year during my studies due to financial difficulties and it would have been devastating to take off another year until funding could be sourced. Exams were drawing closer with a few weeks left and there was a massive outstanding balance on my tuition. This burden was especially hard on my father, being a single parent to me and my sister, who is also in university and the caregiver of my two elderly grandparents,” she added.
Dr Lalah said she would not have been able to get financial clearance to sit her examinations without the assistance.
“I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to the wonderful members of the CHASE Fund for all they have done for me,” she said.
She also expressed thanks to her family members, especially her father.
“I would like to thank my sister, my grandparents and my father for their constant love and support. My father never gave up on ensuring that both his daughters succeed in getting a university education. He searched for every scholarship and encouraged me to apply, even when I was not confident. He has been my source of motivation and walked beside me every step of the way through a very hard and long journey.
”She is encouraging other students pursuing studies in medicine, the arts or early childhood education to visit the CHASE Fund website www.chasefund.gov.jm and see how they too can receive help to complete their studies and contribute to Jamaica’s growth and development.
Source: Young medical doctor grateful for CHASE Fund scholarship as published in the Jamaica Observer’s Career & Education Section.