KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
March 24, 2021
By Joe Stumpe
A group formed to aid in KU School of Medicine-Wichita's transition to a four-year campus says its work is not done, even though that original goal was achieved a decade ago.
Members of 4-Wichita have continued to promote public awareness of the medical school and look for other ways to help. Their latest step: endowing scholarships for two incoming students each year.
"We're really excited about these new scholarships," Sue Watson, who recently became chair of 4-Wichita, said. "Given to incoming students, that's one way we can grow our medical school by attracting the best, brightest and most diverse students."
The medical school appointed 32 business and community leaders to the 4-Wichita board in 2011, the same year the school began teaching first- and second-year students.
Previously, the school had only offered third- and fourth-year clinical classes to students who'd started their studies on the KU Kansas City campus.
The impetus behind expanding KU Wichita was to attract students who would stay in the city and region after school and residency, improving medical care. The new scholarships are a way of furthering that objective.
Jill Docking, who is the immediate past chair of 4-Wichita, is given credit for spearheading the scholarship drive. Docking contributed to the endowment in memory of her husband, former lieutenant governor and Wichita civic leader Tom Docking, who died in 2017.
"Tom spent his life focused on providing health care and services to the underserved of Wichita," Docking said of her husband, who was especially active on behalf of United Way. "He would have been thrilled" by the new scholarships, she said.
Other 4-Wichita members "generously contributed to the scholarships, and I am so grateful to the board of 4-Wichita for their generosity," added Docking.
The first two 4-Wichita scholarships were given to Nikhita Ravikanti, a first-year student from Overland Park, and Joshua Kaseff, a third-year student who spent his first two years of medical school on KU's Kansas City campus.
Kaseff, who plans to become a pediatrician, chose KU Wichita for his final two years of medical school because of the "overwhelmingly positive" things he'd heard about the community-based clinical experience offered here.
"This scholarship money will help ... me relieve some of the financial burden due to the debt that comes with attending medical school," Kaseff wrote in his thank-you letter to the board. "As medical students we appreciate all of the help that we receive along the way and this scholarship money will go a long way in helping me in my career."
Ravikanti hoped to attend medical school on KU's Kansas City campus. Since being assigned here instead, however, she's come to view the move as a "blessing."
"I've really enjoyed the city and the people have been great," she said.
Ravikanti is leaning toward ob-gyn as a specialty. Asked if she sees herself eventually practicing in Wichita, she said: "I do think it's possible, but there's nothing definitely set."
Docking said it's an easy decision to financially support medical students after interacting with them and considering the "choking debt" most incur to become physicians. The 4-Wichita board gets a ground-up report from KU Wichita residents during their meetings.
"It's one thing to talk about it in theory and another to have these incredibly impressive young people speak to the board and tell their stories," Docking said.
4-Wichita members contributed more than $100,000 to endow the scholarships. They now hope to raise more from the community.
"This is only the beginning," Docking said.
Donors may contribute either to the endowment fund, which sustains the scholarships over time, or specify that their contribution be used for current scholarship recipients. They won't find bigger cheerleaders for the medical school than Watson and Docking.
"There are only 155 medical schools in the country and we're so lucky to have one of them in our community," Watson said. "If people know we need their help, I think they're going to help us out."
For more information about KU Wichita and scholarships, contact Brad Rukes at 316-293-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.