AASPA Scholarships

The AASPA is proud to offer scholarships to deserving PA students who are interested in a career in surgery. It is one of just many benefits that we offer to our student members.

Susan and Tom Lusty Memorial Scholarship

AASPA awards at least one scholarship yearly to a student in either the didactic or clinical year. Winners receive the following:

  • $1,000 award
  • Scholarship certificate that is suitable for framing
  • Complimentary registration to the annual AASPA CME Meeting & Surgical Update
  • Ability to list "AASPA Student Scholarship Winner" on your resume
  • Recognition in Sutureline and on our website

To qualify, the physician assistant student must:

  • Be enrolled in an ARC-PA accredited PA program
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Be a student member of AASPA in good standing (membership application may be submitted with scholarship application)
  • Demonstrate an interest in surgical practice
  • Submit a completed AASPA Scholarship Application

To be considered, interested students should submit:

  • A letter from their PA program verifying student status, GPA and a transcript copy
  • A letter of recommendation from their PA program faculty member, surgical PA, surgeon or preceptor
  • A short (500 word) narrative explaining their desire to practice in surgery and career goals
  • List of completed/expected clinical rotations
  • If necessary, an application for AASPA student membership and appropriate dues.

APPLICATION submission:

Submit Your Student Scholar Application

For the 2023 application window (December 15, 2022 through July 15, 2023), all application information must be submitted by July 15, 2023. Recipients will be notified by August 15, 2023. 

Please Note:

  • Applications will not be considered complete until all the above information is received.

Congratulations to our 2022 Student Scholarship Winner Syuzanna Leigh, PA-S!

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Syuzanna's Narrative...
"When I embarked on my medical journey, I found myself volunteering in a local hospital’s emergency department. As a novel soul in the medical world, I was in love with masterfully orchestrated chaos in ED however once I stepped into the crisp air of the operating room filled with pristine surgical instruments shining bright under OR lights, sounds of cardiac monitoring and only a snippet of human body exposed surrounded by blue drapes, I had a moment of awakening. My first case of appendectomy which I ran into after finishing 12h ED scribe shift, tired and hungry but adrenaline was rushing though my body - I felt truly alive.

From general and trauma surgery, I made my way into neurosurgery OR and that’s when I felt that I found my medical home. I have been shadowing surgeons for the past 4 years, with the last 2 years being exclusively in neurosurgery. I have completed general surgery rotation as well as rotation in spine surgery as my orthopedic rotation, and neurosurgery as one of my two elective rotations.

As a mother of 2 young boys, my time is limited and valuable, it is crucial for me to spend it efficiently and productively. I grew eager to take on leadership roles within PA student community because I had to learn to live in a foreign country at the age of 18th and I have seen many hardships as a foreigner throughout my life and medical journey as well which have made me stronger. I felt the need to share my experience and desire to lead by providing mentorship, taking on roles such as student representative at New York Society of Physician Assistants, recently elected student CME director at Western New York Physician Assistant Association, volunteer member of American Association of Physician Assistants where I serve at Huddle and previously served on Advocacy and Policy committee.  After participating in Mission:Brain first Hackathon, I was inspired to create a Mission:Brain chapter like no other which involves collaboration of PA students, practicing PAs and medical students, neurosurgical residents, neurosurgeons. Currently I am the president of Mission:Brain University at Buffalo Neurosurgery Chapter with an upcoming project to provide education on stroke to the local underserved population encircled at Buffalo City Mission shelter.

My ambitions and goals are endless, I have been diligently working to spread awareness about the PA profession in neurosurgical world. By attending Congress of Neurological Surgeons conference, I have established many connections and also initiated first in NY state PA fellowship program in neurosurgery which is currently in process of development at UBNS.

This scholarship will aid me tremendously to decrease my educational expenses, cut down on weekend work hours and allow more time to be spent with my precious children and on projects to benefit PA society.

Congratulations to our 2019 Student Scholarship Winner Katie Lukovich, PA-S!

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Katie's Narrative...
"I can still remember the warmth of the bright spotlights, the sounds of the patient’s heart beat on the monitor, the smells of antiseptic and the cool brisk air of the operating room from the very first surgery I ever witnessed. It was a routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy, but to me, it was anything but routine. It was that moment, that surgery, where I knew the operating room was where I belong. 

The first time I saw an exposed spinal cord was during my first laminectomy procedure. I was in awe of the delicate yet resilient anatomy.  As a Certified Surgical First assistant of several years, I have assisted and excelled in several surgical procedures in all areas of surgery. My passion for the detailed complexity of neurosurgery always drew me back into the neurosurgical operating rooms. Whether it was performing emergency burr holes on a patient with a subdural hematoma at three in the morning, or assisting on a 14 hour spinal fusion revision, I just couldn’t get enough.  As a first assistant, I never had the privilege of caring for the patient preoperatively nor witnessing the curative therapy a surgical procedure can have postoperatively on a patient. As a neurosurgical physician assistant, I will be able to encompass my patients’ care throughout the entire surgical experience.

Both my first and second didactic years have taught me so much appreciation for the human body. The amount of knowledge I have gained over the last two years inspires me. I look forward to expanding this knowledge and skill set with my patients as I embark upon clinical year. I look forward to the day I will be an instrumental part of my patient’s complete surgical experience. During clinical year, I hope to do my elective rotation in neurosurgery. I plan to return to the operating room as a surgical physician assistant specializing in neurosurgery upon completion of my program.

Moving forward, I intend to be a leader in the surgical physician assistant community by sharing my passion for surgery with students and other physician assistants by volunteering my time with AASPA. I know how important it is to not only be a member of your professional organization, but also be a leader within the organization. Accepting the mantle of leadership ensures your voice will be heard and is also the best way to advance this great profession."