Paulin Gotrace made news last year by spearheading a relief effort for his storm-struck hometown in Haiti. Now the Class of 2017 medical student is making more news about generosity. This time, though, he’s on the receiving end.
Gotrace is the College of Medicine’s eighth student to be chosen for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program, which encourages students to pursue training in primary-care health professions.
“It is a blessing to have this opportunity,” said Gotrace, a student at the Daytona Beach Regional Campus. “Although I will still owe some loans, this award will definitely reduce my financial burden.”
His award is part of the Students to Service Loan Repayment Program. Students like him, in their final year of school, may earn up to $120,000. (He got the full amount.) In return, they must commit to serving at least three years at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need. And they must show proof that they used the money to pay off their student loans.
Gotrace applied in October and received official confirmation of the award in February.
“I was beyond excited when I received the email,” he said. “I always knew that I wanted to serve and work in underserved communities. This award will ensure that I serve such a community.”
Elena Reyes, the College of Medicine’s regional director in Southwest Florida, says Gotrace is a perfect fit. She’s worked with him multiple times at the med school’s rural clinical training site in Immokalee, which includes a partnership with a Federally Qualified Health Center.
“Paulin is one of the more compassionate and patient-centered medical students that I have encountered,” Reyes said. “I am very familiar with the personal characteristics that it takes for a physician to succeed in this FQHC setting. We would be honored to have him back as one of our physicians and preceptors.”
Previous College of Medicine students who’ve achieved NHSC recognition are Tanya Anim (Class of 2010); Komal D’Souza (Class of 2011); Alyson (Lewis) Sanchious and Brett Thomas (Class of 2014); and Acton Pifer, Tiffany Smith-Sutton and Eric Walker (Class of 2019).
“I strongly believe that God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others,” Gotrace said. “I hope I can use my blessing to make a difference in people’s lives.”