(Pictured: Sarah Pursley and her daughter, Jasmine)
Please tell us about your daughter.
My daughter’s name is Jasmine Winter, and she is 24 years old.
What degree(s) did you graduate with and where did you go to school?
Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, University of Arkansas 2010
Doctorate of Medicine, Ross University School of Medicine 05/2012-11/2016
Residency – Oklahoma University Health and Sciences Center 07/2017-06/2020
How did your pursuit of a college education influence your children or other family members?
My daughter is pursuing her master’s degree in Taipei, Taiwan beginning in 08/2020. She graduated in 05/2019 from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in international studies and East Asian studies, and with minors in Chinese, Japanese, and international business.
What has been the most rewarding thing about having your degree?
Telling others my story and inspiring them to work hard for their own dreams. Realizing that I am finally at the end of the tunnel after 12 years, and the light is so bright! All of my dreams are actually coming true, and it’s an amazing thing to watch.
What or who kept you motivated during your time as an SPSF scholarship recipient? How did SPSF NWA contribute to that motivation?
When I was a SPSF NWA recipient, I was motivated by dreams I planned to create for me and my daughter’s future, by promises I made to impoverished children in villages overseas, by the faith and hope the staff placed in me at SPSF NWA and by reporting my grades to them every semester, I knew that I couldn’t let them down. In medical school my parents placed great faith in me and co-signed my student loans with their home as equity, paid for my board exams ($2000) yearly, and supported mine and Jasmine’s living expenses at times. There is no greater responsibility I have than paying off this $500,000 in medical school loans. I just want to add that I entered medical school with $0 in student loans after graduating with my bachelor’s because of the scholarship, but I already have a plan to pay off all of my debts in the next 3 years due to the salary I will be receiving starting in July 2020.
What has changed most for you and your family now that you are no longer in school?
Being a resident feels as though I’m still in school; however, I am currently being pursued by hospitals all over the country for when I finish residency in June 2020. I am being flown to cities where I am picking up a rental car, staying in the best hotels, and taken to the best restaurants to discuss moving to their locations– all paid for by the hospitals. I am taking my daughter to an interview/offer this week and spending an extra day skiing with her in Tahoe! I was discussing with my daughter the weird position that we find ourselves in this year, which is that we will become 1st time home owners, and our first home will also be the most amazing house that we could have ever dreamed about due to my salary and bonuses that start in July 2020. Making 15k every 2 weeks is difficult to fathom until you reach it, suddenly, after 12 years of waiting and working so hard.
What was the most beneficial part of being a SPSF NWA scholarship recipient?
I think the high expectations that I was given, the huge amounts of encouragement that the staff provided, and the accountability factor were the best parts of being an SPSF NWA scholarship recipient.
What does Jasmine want to do when she graduates?
I think she is still trying to figure that out. I think she wants to be an ambassador.
What is your favorite SPSF NWA memory?
My favorite memory is Jasmine speaking at the annual fundraising event, Spark of Hope. We continue to be grateful for these memories.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment since completing your degree?
I think it is learning how to listen to patients and help them get through the hardest days of their lives as often happens when a person is in the hospital.
Looking back, was there one skill that you learned that was particularly useful, either in college or in the professional world?
I learned the skill of working tirelessly for hours, days, months, and not stopping until I really thought I had done everything I could have to prepare, and after all of that, failing! And I did it all over again except I studied even harder and longer than I thought was possible, until I made it through.
My daughter has learned how to study and work with this same discipline and her GPA of 3.8 when she graduated from the U of A with double major and a triple minor were definitely shocking for me, especially because we rarely saw each other during these years. She had done this on her own.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experiences?
I want to say that I failed Step 2 (one of my board exams) by 2 points the first time I took it. I seriously thought that was the end of everything. I am eternally grateful to my parents for literally looking at me that day and saying, “When and where is there a prep course for that test because you are taking it again soon!” Because of their support I took that course and got an amazing score the second time. I would not be a physician today without their encouragement during that dark time. One of the things I look forward to the most is very soon having the ability to give back to SPSF NWA. I received my first contract to review a week ago, and I will be working as a hospitalist physician with 7 days on, 7 days off. This leaves me time to set up other businesses, become a foster mother, and someday adopt children (I hope).