SMU eNews

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) Students Benefit from Employees' Generosity

In her final year of the Master Physician Assistant Program, Marcie Johnson traveled to Yellowstone National Park for an elective in wilderness medicine. The experience reinforced her desire to provide preventative care in a rural mountain community, where access to healthcare is limited. 

Johnson, who was born with profound hearing loss, relies on her vision more than most to communicate with her patients.

“I have adapted to a hearing world: a world where lights are turned off in classrooms or clinics, robbing me of the ability to lip-read others; a world where teachers, peers and colleagues turn their backs while talking,” Johnson wrote in her aid application.  

Johnson also uses powerful hearing aids, which must be replaced this year at considerable cost. That’s why she is grateful to the employees of Samuel Merritt University (SMU) for providing her with a scholarship that will help cover tuition expenses.

Johnson is one of 12 SMU students who were each awarded with a $2,000 Employee Campaign Scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year. The campaign began in the late ‘90s and SMU employee donations have increased every year, with a total of $80,000 raised last year.  The gifts support the Employee Scholarship Fund as well as named scholarships that benefit SMU students across all academic programs.  

Scholarship recipient Taleen Bilemdjian, a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program, says financial aid is critical to her education. Bilemdjian hopes to work in pediatrics with infants and train in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) following graduation in December. 

“I spent two days in the NICU during my maternity rotation and realized that the smaller they come the closer the babies are to my heart,” she wrote in her application. “I could not imagine a more rewarding career than helping tiny lives grow and join their families.”

Johnson, who aspires to expand access to healthcare for the deaf community, was recently re-elected for a second term on the board of directors of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL). She also serves on the AMPHL committees for mentorship and recruitment.

“Limitations are nothing but imagined obstacles, and I stand tall in the belief of who I am, where I want to be, and what I want to do,” says Johnson.

MPA student Marcie Johnson
MPA student Marcie Johnson
BSN student Taleen Bilemdjian
BSN student Taleen Bilemdjian