WCU Scholarship Dinner honors medical community

Published 12:17 pm Monday, November 15, 2021

William Carey University hosted its 10th Annual Scholarship Dinner Nov. 2 at Lake Terrace Convention Center. The theme of this year’s sold-out event was “A Tribute to the Medical Community,” recognizing the service of Pine Belt healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Tonight, we want to thank the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have been on the front lines for almost two years, keeping us safe, and we are proud of Carey students in healthcare programs who will soon join them in service,” said WCU President Dr. Tommy King.

“We are also pleased to see such a large turn-out of friends and supporters. More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid. The funds raised tonight will make a big difference in the lives of students seeking a quality education.”

Dr. Ben Carson was the evening’s guest speaker.

A pioneer in the field of neurosurgery, Carson became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center at the age of 33. During his medical career, he received more than 60 honorary degrees and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Carson sought the nomination for president of the United States in early 2016 Republican primaries and served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2017 to 2021.

Carson said he aspired to be a doctor from the time he was eight years old. His mother worked two or three jobs to support her family and encouraged her children to read. Carson said he didn’t like it at first, but he discovered he could read about explorers, scientists, and surgeons. Reading improved his academic performance, and he won a scholarship to Yale University.

The evening featured the announcement of another scholarship – the Dr. Ben Carson Endowed Scholarship, which was presented to Sonya Djikeng, a second-year student in the WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

A native of Cameroon, Djikeng grew up in Houston, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“When I was about 12, my mom was in nursing school, so she was always studying. I would sit at the table, too, just to spend time with her. But I got interested in her textbooks and started reading them – they were super-interesting. In high school, I took a lot of science classes, like advanced placement biology, chemistry, and anatomy,” Djikeng said.

“I want to practice medicine in rural areas. I love being in a city, but I’ve seen the other side. There are people who could die because the closest clinic or hospital is more than 30 minutes away. That situation needs to be fixed, and we can fix it.”

The scholarship dinner was attended by healthcare professionals from Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg Clinic, Southern Bone and Joint, Merit Health Wesley, Mississippi Osteopathic Medical Association, and more. Students and faculty from WCU’s College of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Pharmacy were also in the audience.

For more information about giving opportunities at William Carey University, contact the WCU Office for Advancement at (601) 318-6192 or email advancement@wmcarey.edu.