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Siemens–ASCP Scholarships Provide Students with a Lifeline to Education

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One student in the histotechnology program at the University of Texas in Houston was close to withdrawing from his studies when he received a Siemens–ASCP scholarship for $1,000. Those funds kept him in the program until graduation. Another student had changed from a full-time to a part-time job as a medical laboratory technician. Three months into the histotechnology program, the employer laid off the student. Fortunately, the student had just received the $1,000 Siemens–ASCP scholarship and had a financial buffer to find another part-time job.

“The Siemens-ASCP scholarships are a vital resource for today’s laboratory professional students,” says Mark Bailey, HTL(ASCP)CM, ASCP Chair of the Scholarship Committee and Program Director of the Histotechnology Program at the University of Texas/MD Anderson in Houston. “I walk all my students through the Siemens-ASCP scholarship program application process and strongly encourage them to apply. Currently, laboratory professional students nationwide have about a 50-percent chance of receiving one of these scholarships, although applications have increased from 95 to 393 during the past six years.”

More students are applying for scholarships than ever. The still sputtering economy and steep rises in tuition mean that more college students have to take out loans and find part-time jobs to pay for their education. According to The Economist, between 2001 and 2010 the cost of a university education jumped from 23 percent of median annual earnings to 38 percent. As a result, student debt has doubled during the past 15 years, and approximately 66 percent of college students take out loans for an average $26,000 of debt upon graduation.

For ASCP members with financial wherewithal and empathy for today’s laboratory professionals, Mr. Bailey urges them to donate $5 toward the Siemens-ASCP scholarship program. “If the 65,000 laboratory professional members of ASCP each gave $5, students would gain $325,000 in scholarship funds,” he says. Think of the $5 as foregoing one fancy coffee drink per year and then consider how much a Siemens–ASCP scholarship means to a medical laboratory student.

“While the scholarship funds are extremely valuable for students, they also gain so much by writing the essay to apply,” says Michele A. Smith, MS, SCT(ASCP), a member of the ASCP Scholarship Committee and Education Coordinator for the State Laboratory of Hygiene at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. “I tell my students that writing the essay will help them pull together their resume, field questions in job interviews, and define their professional goals.”

Nationwide, program directors training laboratory professional students recognize the increased financial hurdles that students have to jump over. They push their students to apply for the Siemens/ASCP scholarships to allay financial worries, to gain confidence about their skills, and to advance their careers.

“My students have so much economic pressure in addition to a challenging clinical program year,” says Marisa James, MA, MLS(ASCP)CM, Medical Laboratory Scientist Program Director at North Kansas City Hospital, North Kansas City, Mo. “If they apply for the Siemens-ASCP scholarships, they gain a good return on investment for their time. Many of our North Kansas City Hospital students already have degrees, so they are not eligible for financial aid. They are, however, eligible for scholarships, and not many exist for this profession.”

In 2011, the student at North Kansas City Hospital who received a Siemens-ASCP scholarship did not have to work part-time, enabling her to focus solely on her studies, according to Ms. James. That is a gift that can transform a life and career.

For more information about the Siemens-ASCP scholarship program, click here.