Grad wins prestigious fellowship for med school 

When Rebekah Elliott’s children graduated from high school, she told them she was going to college with them. Now, she's headed to med school armed with a scholarship and what she learned at Pitt State. 

“I had always planned to go back to school after my children were grown – thankfully I was able to follow through,” she said. 

The motivating factor: going through palliative care with both of her parents, who lived in Parsons and were the reason she and her family settled in Southeast Kansas. 

“It reignited in me a passion in me to continue the pre-med degree I had started years ago,” she said. 

Elliott accomplished her goal by graduating from Pitt State in December 2018, and after working two years as a researcher, this fall she was accepted by KU Medical Center to begin work on her medical degree. 

Helping her get there is a 2021 National Fellowship awarded by Phi Kappa Phi — the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. 

“It is very competitive and very prestigious to win one of these,” said Professor Randy Winzer, a faculty advisor for Pitt State's Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 213. 

Each year since 1979, high performing undergraduate students having at least 72 semester hours have been invited to join the chapter, making them eligible to compete for numerous scholarships and awards valued at $1 million each year.  

Elliott, as a nominee from Pitt State’s Phi Kappa Phi Chapter, competed with students from more than 300 other chapters. Winning the fellowship puts her in an elite group, Winzer said. 

Elliott plans to specialize in neuroendocrinology and hopes to work as a researcher and physician focusing on patient advocacy and helping those that live in areas where clinical care can be challenging — areas like Parsons, whose residents often have to travel to see specialists. 

She credits her experience working with faculty members like Anuradha Ghosh, Irene Zegar, Santimukul Santra, and others in getting her to this point. 

“The experiences I had at Pitt State – the research I got to do in labs alongside professors — it all helped me so much, and getting this fellowship is phenomenal.”  

“It’s a calling – you definitely regret things you don’t try. I’m so thankful I’m here. I don’t care what age you are, never stop dreaming,” said Elliott, who is 50. “Never stop going forward on what your goals are.” 

Learn more about Pitt State's pre-med programs:

Pre-Med Biology