KOKOMO, Ind. – When Tom Etter chose Indiana University Kokomo to pursue his undergraduate degree – little did he realize how crucial this decision was toward paving the way for future success.
Etter, a senior majoring in biology, recently received an IU School of Medicine Recruitment Scholarship – worth $120,000 – plus early admission to the medical school.
"What I'm going to do with my life has changed since I came to IU Kokomo," Etter said, noting the scholarship will nearly cover tuition costs. "It has definitely made a big difference for me."
Susan Sciame-Giesecke, IU Kokomo's executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the university's excellent programs prepare students to excel in graduate school and professional programs like medical school.
"Tom exemplifies our commitment to academic excellence and student success at IU Kokomo," she said.
Etter, from Flora, chose IU Kokomo because he heard it had excellent programs, and for its reasonable tuition.
"I had never been to college before. I had been out of school so long, and medical school seemed like such a reach," he said. "I didn't know how I would perform. I enjoyed it, and I was doing fine in my classes, so I changed my major and decided I wanted to be a doctor."
Christian Chauret, chairman and professor of microbiology in the Science, Mathematics, and Informatics department, encouraged Etter to pursue medical school after noticing how well he was doing in his microbiology class.
"His comprehension of the material was so thorough that I saw a lot of potential in him," Chauret said. "He definitely has the ability to succeed at that level.
"We are proud that IU Kokomo students graduate with the lowest amount of student loan debt of all the IU regional campuses," Chauret added. "I am so pleased one of our students can continue to medical school with little or no student debt. This is an outstanding achievement for Tom. We always enjoy when we have great students like him."
Etter said the scholarship reinforces his decision to attend the IU School of Medicine.
"IU is where I wanted to go to medical school, because of the location and because it's a great school. Having my tuition nearly covered is very exciting," Etter said.
He credits encouragement from Chauret, and the preparation he received at IU Kokomo for his success. A measure of this success is his score in the ranking him in the 97th percentile on the Medical College Admission Test. Many potential medical students take test preparation classes, but he did not because he thought his classes prepared him well enough without them.
"I feel really happy about the preparation I've had here," he said. "I was able to perform well, and that's a direct result of the education I had here."
While at IU Kokomo, Etter has worked in Chauret's research lab, served as a student/peer mentor and was co-president of the student Pre-professional Club. Etter said he has made helpful connections through the university, including an opportunity to intern with Dr. Dana Stewart at North Central Indiana Pediatrics in Kokomo.
He plans to return to Flora to practice general medicine after he earns his medical degree, unless he discovers interest in a specialty medical area while in school.
Chauret said Etter has worked hard for his success.
"Tom is self-motivated and works really hard on his own. I'm not surprised by his success because of that," Chauret said.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.