For the past four years the Foundation has awarded scholarships to current medical students at the University of Minnesota to educate them about sarcoma cancers and to also encourage their interest in the field of oncology and research. During their term of service, Sarcoma Scholars attend the Thursday morning radiation/oncology conference as their schedule allows. They also assist at events such as the Annual Party in the Park, the Gatherings, and the Donor Dinner. They are also responsible for planning the sarcoma lunch lecture for medical students.
The Sarcoma Scholars who served for the past year raised the bar in terms of the level of service and commitment to RIS. Sarcoma Scholar Tori Bahr and her fiancé Paul Sanft developed the concept and produced the video, From “Never Heard of it” to “Caught it Early”. To date the video has received over 4,500 views on YouTube along with positive feedback about the content of the video and increased interest in the work of the Foundation. In addition, Sarcoma Scholar Jim Stokman and his wife, Stephanie helped to create the graphics used for the 2013 Party in the Park promotional materials. Together, Tori and Jim Stokman planned the sarcoma lunch lecture this spring which resulted in greater attendance of medical students at the University of Minnesota than in previous years.
As a result of the spring sarcoma lecture, several students submitted applications and ultimately three exceptional candidates were selected to serve as Sarcoma Scholars for 2013-2014. Each candidate attended the sarcoma lecture and all three expressed a strong interest in advancing the RIS mission for research, support, and education. More importantly, each candidate understands the importance of educating and raising awareness of sarcomas within the medical community. We anticipate that their efforts will have a tremendous impact on the work of the Foundation, particularly that of the Red Flags Team.
The Sarcoma Scholars for 2013-2014
Jacob Sundberg, MS3 is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas. Jacob is interested in oncology because of the expansive nature of the field and the opportunities for scientific discovery to improve treatment protocols and patient outcomes. Jacob is also interested in academic medicine and cancer education. A career in medicine will provide Jacob the opportunity to combine his dual passion for science and teaching by educating his peers, future physicians, and patients.
Gina Piscitello, MS3, is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is excited about conducting research to learn more about the scientific mechanisms of cancer. Gina is also interested in the opportunity to educate patients, physicians and medical students about the characteristics of rare diseases such as sarcomas, in order to improve care for patients and their families. With a personal family experience with cancer and after learning about the medical experiences of Karen Wyckoff, Julian Baultrippe, and Ruth Bachman at the sarcoma lunch lecture, Gina understands the imperative to teach physicians and medical students how to recognize the warning signs of sarcoma, to make appropriate referrals, and treat patients with compassion.
Alyssa (Kerber) Larish, MS3 learned the impact of sarcoma cancers on families when the son of close family friends was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 9. After his passing the family established a foundation, The Miracles of Mitch, to help other children battling cancer. Alyssa has been involved with The Miracles of Mitch Foundation over the years and decided to pursue a career in medicine rather than research in order to be on the front lines with patients and their families. Alyssa was touched by the RIS story and mission, especially after her personal experiences observing the unique diagnostic and treatment challenges sarcomas present. Alyssa completed her undergraduate education at Baylor University.