In 2019, the Simon Foundation gifted Chapman $9M to offer full-tuition scholarships to underserved students seeking an M.M.S Physician Assistant graduate degree. The news spread quickly and when the recruitment window opened, applications flooded in. After months of applicant screening, we got news that the ten highly coveted seats had been filled. So, who are the students? After reviewing their profiles, the answer is clear: they are perseverance warriors!

Collectively, the ten students who make up Chapman’s first Simon Scholar PA cohort have endured more adversity than can be recounted in this blog post. Through unbelievable personal and financial challenges, they managed to complete undergrad degrees with top honors allowing them to qualify and earn full-tuition scholarships to our highly selective program. As they begin the journey to becoming Physician Assistants, ranked #1 Best Job 2021 by US News & World Reports, we want to welcome them to our community and cheer them on.

Here are the Chapman University Simon Scholar PA students:

Rayna Walker

“Only 4% of PAs in the United States are black. My future goal is to help raise this percentage by having children of all minorities see more people in the medical field that represent them and encourage them to choose a profession in healthcare.”


Vanessa Mendoza

“I represent the Hispanics, children of immigrants, children who feel hopeless because they have a family history of educational or financial struggle, first generation college graduates, those who want to help others, those who want to make a difference in the world, and those who have a dream to achieve  professional success.”

Christine Anderson

“The Simon Scholarship would change my life. This scholarship would enable me to achieve my long-term goals sooner while still helping to support my mom.”

Don Nguyen

At times, I’ve felt insecure because of the challenges that I’ve faced in my life. When that happens, I look at the scars on my father’s feet that he got as he walked from Vietnam to Laos to escape communism and to give his family a better life. It reminds me that my parents have made so many sacrifices for myself and my three brothers.”

Alyson Nguyen

“While working through school has helped me in covering basic expenses, the financial assistance that Simon Scholar PA scholarship provides will allow me to graduate debt-free and dedicate myself to medically serving the underprivileged populations who need it most.”


Long Tam

“I love guiding my younger brother and my peers through the academic challenges brought by their language barriers. I love showing my patients that they matter and that they are heard.”


PhuongAnh Ngoc Nguyen

As I volunteer, I found that my Vietnamese American identity has helped me to connect with other immigrants. With my bilingual skills, I can build a connection with them to better educate and direct them to resources to promote healthy living.”

Courtnie Ly

“I am confident that my ability to overcome adversity in my own life means I have the power to help enact positive change in the lives of others. For me, becoming a Simon Scholar PA represents more than just a scholarship.”


Tiffany Bui

My unwavering commitment to service, patient well-being, and the pursuit of excellence will sustain me as a PA student and as a practicing PA. I hope to be an advocate and teacher for patients during their most vulnerable moments and beyond.”


Tae Kuyung Lee

“There is always a need for dedicated healthcare providers, and I hope to be one myself. The Simon Scholar PA Program would help me focus on succeeding as a PA student by relieving financial pressures.”