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Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Health Foundation Award $100,000 in Scholarships to Diverse Students Pursuing Healthcare Careers

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - July 26, 2013) -  The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announced today that $100,000 in scholarships has been awarded to seven academically deserving students at its member-schools in partnership with United Health Foundation's Diverse Scholars Initiative.

The scholarships were announced at the fifth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings more than 60 scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., July 24-26 to celebrate the scholars and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation's health care system. This year's event gives these future health care professionals the opportunity to meet and interact with members of Congress and leaders from a variety of health care fields.

"I am excited to award the seven students representing six of our member-schools, public Historically Black Colleges and Universities, (HBCUs), with this scholarship that will enable them to focus more on their studies and not how they are going to pay their tuition," said TMCF President & CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. 

The following TMCF-United Health Foundation Scholarship Recipients are: Symone Jordan, Bowie State University; Jessica Mack, Howard University; Nicollette Manning, Texas Southern University; Angelo Patterson, North Carolina A&T State University; Jessica Smith, Alcorn State University; Anjelica Spratley, North Carolina Central University; and Julius Unamba, Bowie State University. All seven recipients are juniors with majors in Biology, Nursing and Sports Science & Fitness Management and the average GPA for each student is a 3.52. 

According to the American Medical Association and Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of multicultural health professionals is disproportionately low when compared to the overall population. For example, while about 15 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic/Latino, only 5 percent of physicians and 4 percent of registered nurses are Hispanic/Latino. About 12 percent of the population is African-American, yet only 6 percent of physicians and 5 percent of registered nurses are African-American.

Given the changing demographics in the United States and the volumes of people entering the health care system due to the Affordable Care Act, there is an even greater need for a more diverse health care workforce.

Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and adopt the medical treatment they receive1 . Increasing the diversity of health care providers will reduce the shortage of medical professionals in underserved areas, reduce inequities in academic medicine and address variables -- such as language barriers -- that make it difficult for patients to navigate the health care system.

The scholarships announced today are part of United Health Foundation's Diverse Scholars Initiative, which has provided nearly $2 million in scholarships this year through partnerships with organizations like TMCF. The initiative aims to increase diversity in the health care workforce by supporting promising future health professionals.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to support these exceptional students in their efforts to achieve their educational goals and work to improve our health care system," said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation. "The Diverse Scholars Initiative helps these scholars fund their education, and gives them an opportunity to learn from one another and interact with experts who are leading the way in improving patient care."

"I am very excited about this partnership with the United Health Foundation and the impact these scholarships will have on our African-American community," concluded Taylor. "African-Americans need a higher representation in the healthcare industry and this type of financial assistance will motivate and inspire more African-American students to enter into the healthcare profession."

For more information about the Diverse Scholars Initiative, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html.

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. TMCF helps students with a clear intention and the motivation to succeed and acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. TMCF also efficiently connects high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities-access that students or employers might not have on their own. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF and its initiatives, visit: www.ThurgoodMarshallCollegeFund.org.

About United Health Foundation

Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

1 The Rationale for Diversity in the Health Professions: A Review of the Evidence; U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions; October 2006

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