Harris Center scholarship brings Chyna Freeman a step closer to medical school

by | Aug 24, 2020

The Promise and Opportunity Scholarship allows biology students to enjoy a full college experience. After earning her bachelor's, Freeman plans to become an anesthesiologist or pediatrician.
Chyna Freeman, scholarship recipient

The Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center’s Promise and Opportunity Scholarship supports biology major Chyna Freeman as she pursues her goal of going to medical school and providing health care for under-resourced women and children. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Not long ago, Chyna Freeman felt like her goal of going to medical school was miles out of reach and it seemed like nothing would work out.

Then she received a piece of news that changed everything. She’d been awarded a full scholarship to continue her education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Freeman is entering her third year at UMSL, where she’s studying biology with an eye toward becoming an anesthesiologist or pediatrician.

The Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center is supporting Freeman through its Promise and Opportunity Scholarship. This is the first year for the scholarship, which is designed to help biology students enjoy a full college experience.

“It means a lot because not only was I given money from donors to help perfect my craft, but it gives me a feeling of achievement,” Freeman said. “It definitely means a lot to me that my hard work isn’t going unnoticed. In the end, scholarships push me more to be the best me.”

The scholarship covers tuition, fees and a $1,000 book stipend per year for expenses not covered by other scholarships and grants. It’s funded by proceeds from the World Ecology Award Gala.

The Harris Center promotes ecology and biodiversity conservation through education, research and training. As part of the application process, Freeman had to write an essay on the importance of conserving nature.

“It was easy for me because I love biology,” she said. “Biology is nature and more.”

She’s been drawn to her career path for years. During high school, she studied biology through programs at Maryville University, Saint Louis University, St. Louis Community College and UMSL. Pursuing a college degree was important for both Freeman and her family as she is a first-generation student.

Originally, she attended Maryville, but after hearing about UMSL from a few friends, Freeman made the decision to transfer and is glad she did.

“I enjoy the people and the community,” she said. “It’s always fun going around on campus and there’s something you haven’t seen yet. I didn’t know anyone or what events to go to, but once you talk to people, everyone is nice and loves to help.”

One of her favorite classes was public speaking. The skills she developed in the course were not part of the core biology curriculum but will be an asset when she enters the medical field. She was also nominated to the National Society of Leadership and Success, an organization that encourages members to build their leadership skills.

After she graduates, Freeman plans to attend SLU School of Medicine to earn her MD. She’s drawn to working with under-resourced women and children and hopes to spend her career practicing medicine in areas with high poverty rates throughout the U.S. and in other countries.

Her passion for helping others includes her family as well.

“I’m part of a family where some aren’t very healthy,” she said. “I’ve always loved looking out for people, and by going into the medical field, I won’t only be helping the communities I work with. I’ll be benefiting my family in ways I can’t even imagine.”

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Karen Holman

Karen Holman

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