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UTHSC-San Antonio Student Wins an MS Research Scholarship

Nelda P. Itzep Gets $10,000 from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers

A University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio medical student has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship intended to promote careers in multiple sclerosis research.

Nelda P. Itzep, a second-year medical student at UTHSC's School of Medicine in San Antonio, was awarded the scholarship — a so-called preceptorship with its main objective of pairing up a student with an established professional as a mentor — from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers and supported through a donation by Genzyme Corp.

Citing her academic schedule, Itzep was unavailable for comment, but she provided a prepared statement expressing satisfaction in being selected. Last week, the young medical student was in the throes of her newly secured preceptorship during a “real world” exercise, pairing up with local MS doctor Suzanne Gazda in working directly with patients, observing the professional at work to learn more about the disease and how to treat it.

“I am so grateful,” Itzep said. “It will help me achieve my dream of obtaining a doctor of medicine degree and to serve my community through my profession.”

The consortium and its foundation scoured through several applications for the scholarship before settling on Itzep, explained Judy Katterhenrich, strategic initiatives consultant for the foundation. She said Itzep fit the profile of the type of student officials hoped to assist, particularly one with economic challenges pursuing a medical career despite personal obstacles.

Losing her mother when she was a little girl is one of the obstacles Itzep had to overcome, Katterhenrich noted. Despite the loss, the student pursued medical studies and now dreams of one day opening up her own practice.

Itzep's compelling personal narrative — coupled with a requisite essay, academic qualifications and level of commitment to her community — propelled her as the top contender for the scholarship, Katterhenrich said. But she acknowledged selecting a recipient was difficult given a worthy field of candidates.

The significance of receiving the first such award is not lost on Itzep: “It will help me achieve my dream of obtaining a doctor of medicine degree, and to serve my community through my profession. I've always wanted to help others like so many people helped my family and me. I hope that someday I will have my own practice in which I can help underserved populations.”

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