Two future physicians from Orangeburg have been awarded the inaugural Spencer C. Disher, M.D. Scholarship at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
Chanell Bonnette and Uchechi Egbuhuzo, both members of the USC School of Medicine Class of 2016, will receive a scholarship award of $25,000 annually or $100,000 over their four years at the school, subject to satisfactory academic progress, to help defray the cost of their medical education and reduce their loan debt.
In 2006, the Regional Medical Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, South Carolina State University and Claflin University to develop a Nurturing the Pipeline program and establish an RMC medical student scholarship at USC. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding was to establish a collaborative program for increasing the number of minority students from South Carolina, especially Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, attending medical school at USC.
The scholarship was named the Spencer C. Disher, M.D. Scholarship in 2008. Disher served the Orangeburg community for more than 43 years. He was named chief of the RMC’s medical staff in 1988, and served for many years on the Board of Trustees at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., his alma mater.
Additionally, Disher was vice president of the S.C. State Board of Medical Examiners from 1985-89, a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Medical Association from 1984-93, and chairman of the NMA’s Grants and Proposals Committee and chairman emeritus of the Reference Committee on Public Health and Consumer Affairs of NMA’s House of Delegates.
A 1977 fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Disher served as vice president of the S.C. Chapter, a member of the Board of Directors of the Orangeburg Area Mental Health Center, chairman of the Board of the Palmetto State Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association, and director of Student Health at Claflin University.
A native of Orangeburg, Bonnette graduated from Claflin in 2011. A former participant of the RMC’s Summer Enrichment and Nurturing the Pipeline programs, Bonnette is interested in primary care and pediatrics.
Bonnette has participated in a number of internships, including the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program, the Medical University of South Carolina’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program and Claflin’s Student Research Program.
“When I become a physician, I want to work in an underserved area to show people that there are still many doctors with a true passion for helping others despite their economic background,” Bonnette said. “I know that I will be one of those doctors, because I have a true passion for helping others, especially children.”
A 2009 S.C. State graduate, Egbuhuzo, of Orangeburg, is also a graduate of Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, where she majored in biomedical sciences. She is interested in pediatrics and internal medicine.
Born in Nigeria, West Africa, Egbuhuzo was reared in Stone Mountain, Ga. She was part of the pilot class of students to participate in the Nurturing the Pipeline program, and served as an instructor and program coordinator for the S.C. State University Summer Exam Preparatory Institute this summer.
“While attending (the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson), I conducted research at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, where my research focus was on metastatic breast cancer,” Egbuhuzo said. “I also worked as a graduate assistant in the university’s Community Outreach Office, where I worked with the medical students in providing health services to the local community.”
Tom Dandridge, RMC’s president and CEO, said the RMC is pleased to support the medical careers of Bonnette and Egbuhuzo.
“It is our hope that ultimately this support will have a significant impact on the access and delivery of health care in our community as these students graduate and return to Orangeburg,” he said.