Lance Chapman is in elite company. He’s among fewer than 400 college graduates—including three others from Notre Dame—who have won the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship since the program began in 2002.
Chapman, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate and a 2009 scholarship winner, received $300,000, which is allowing him to pursue his dream of becoming a surgeon. He is currently enrolled in medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“I still can’t believe I’m attending medical school with a full ride scholarship," he says. “I’m so thankful for all the positive influences who have made this possible in my life.”
A New Chance to Serve Poor
A medical career is just the latest way Chapman plans to give back. After graduating from Notre Dame, he taught science and sex education for two years at a middle school in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The school was known for violence and gang involvement, Chapman says, but he appreciated the chance to serve the community. During his first year, he even contributed to a teaching blog hosted by the Los Angeles Times.
Now, he sees another chance to serve those who need it most.
“I would like to go into surgery or emergency medicine,” Chapman says. "I like fast-paced environments, and I envision myself working in an underserved area, similar to where I taught. In my opinion, there is symmetry between the callings of doctors and teachers.”
Chapman is among the last class that will benefit from this particular scholarship program. The private, independent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation that administered it announced recently that it is ending the program as it now exists. Citing financial concerns, the foundation will now provide graduate scholarships only to students who have previously received one of its undergraduate scholarships.
He is also part of a Notre Dame tradition. Caitlin Polley, a double major in biology and Spanish, and Enrique Schaerer, a double major in political science and finance, received the scholarship in 2005. And Luke McLaurin, a double major in Italian studies and philosophy, won it in 2003.
Well Prepared to Learn
Chapman is grateful for the education he received at Notre Dame, where he triple-majored in Spanish, science, and math.
“Notre Dame’s challenging pre-medical work has already paid dividends at a Top 10 medical school,” he says of his studies at UCLA. “A lot of it is review from the intense classes I took as an undergraduate.”
Chapman says the University also shaped his values, especially his emphasis on helping the less fortunate.
“Notre Dame taught me that the dignity of every life is worth fighting for,” he says. “Because of that, my commitment has been and will always be to fight tirelessly for each life that enters my care.”