Chapman University’s physician assistant program received a $9 million donation from the Simon Foundation to provide full-tuition scholarships to underserved students.
Beginning in 2021, the two-year program will provide 10 scholarships for five years to candidates aspiring to earn their master’s in medical science.
“We’ve worked over the last year with Chapman to put the program together,” said Gary Singer, chairman of the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing. “We are very impressed with the investment at the Rinker Health Science Campus. We are excited to be on the ground floor of a program that many other foundations might follow.”
The Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine is home to Chapman’s School of Pharmacy and several graduate health science programs, including the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, which educates future physician assistants.
Ron and Sandi Simon of the Simon Foundation decided to support aspiring physician assistants because they have a shorter career path than medical doctors but the position still carries strong employment prospects and salaries.
“This is something where we can see some quicker results,” Singer said.
“Ron and Sandi Simon personify what it means to influence change and transform lives,” Chapman President Daniele Struppa said in a prepared statement. “They focus on helping young students who don’t typically think about college and their results speak for themselves.”
In 2002, the Simon Family Foundation established the annual Simon Scholars program to mentor 120 high school students through a bi-monthly curriculum, leadership conferences and retreats, SAT Prep courses, national college tours, and college application assistance.
The Foundation touts that 98% of Simon Scholars are first-generation college students and 96% are accepted to a four-year college. To date, the Foundation has provided more than $45 million in financial aid to underserved students.
In 2015, the Simon STEM Scholars Program launched a partnership between Chapman and high schools in Orange and Santa Ana. The program offers selected students who plan to major in STEM — science, technology, engineering or math — scholarships to Chapman.
The first few cohorts of Chapman physician assistant students who receive the Simon scholarships will not be Simon Scholars alumni.
“Our goal, over time, is to introduce our Simon Scholars to the career path and reach out to them to see if they have the interest,” Singer said.