Hamilton High School and Bitterroot College graduate David McCoy recently received the $4,000 Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital scholarship funded by medical providers.
“It completely changed everything this semester,” he said. “I didn’t have many scholarships this semester and it was really crunch time, I was going to have to take out more student loans. When I got the letter, I was in tears.”
McCoy is a 2014 graduate of Hamilton High School who said his internship at MDMH through the school solidified his career choice. He took dual credit courses in high school then studied at the Bitterroot College to complete his associate degree before gaining acceptance at the University of Montana.
“I’ve been there two years and did great in both environments,” McCoy said. “This past semester was probably my hardest as I was taking all 400 level classes.”
McCoy said he applied for the scholarship in 2018, wasn’t selected but decided to apply again after receiving a nudge from him mom who saw it posted on Facebook. A complete application, great letters of recommendation, community service (Haven House) and grades that show he is top in his class made the choice easy for the scholarship selection committee.
His advice to high school students is to get experience, study hard, give back and commit.
“The internship experience is priceless,” he said. “Taking a class is one thing but the internship, being in the environment, provides the opportunity to see if you like it. What I’ve done has been interesting, I definitely like it.”
McCoy said that receiving the scholarship made graduate school possible for a degree in Medical Laboratory Science. McCoy has fall semester, a summer program in Bozeman, a full year internship, a two-week rural rotation then passing a test to complete his degree.
“I like the clinical aspect where you’re actually helping somebody,” McCoy said. “I like the smaller facilities rather than the huge reference lab, it is more personable. You’re doing the things that doctors are using to make the important decisions but this is really a hidden profession.”
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The scholarship money will be used for books, tuition and if there is any remaining, he’ll use it to pay for housing in Bozeman next summer.
“I was definitely worried about paying for school this semester so this really helps,” McCoy said.
The scholarship fund is built by donations for medical providers at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital.
Dr. April Weinberger, Chief Medical Officer, said the providers will be delighted to hear his response.
“Everybody who is in medicine like to promote anyone who wants to go into health care because we believe in it passionately,” she said. “Perseverance is key. The funny thing is that when you get old, like me, you remember how challenging you felt like every step was to getting to the place that you felt comfortable and happy in your job.”
Weinberger said the steps to get into medicine can be daunting.
“All those baby steps that I took seemed insurmountable at the time, but I’m happy I pushed through,” Weinberger said. “Everyone has that ‘aha’ moment then when it is hard you go back to that time that inspired you to do it. Take a few moments when things are stressful and go back.”
She assured McCoy that he will be comfortable and happy in his job and then begin to look for the next step.
“When you get good at something and you’re that kind of person you think ‘I need a new challenge now,’” Weinberger said.