Last year, graduate Physician Assistant student Blake Geschke '16 received the Christos T. and Joan A. Panopoulos Physician Assistant Studies Scholarship for his final year at Grand Valley State University. The scholarship’s impact on his education has helped him to foster his desire to help others.
When Blake started at Grand Valley State University, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: help people. Blake developed a love for human physiology, pathophysiology, and anatomy in his work as an undergraduate student. The combination of these interests and his drive to help others led him to think about entering the P.A. profession and to look into Grand Valley.
He was drawn to GVSU immediately because of its association with the number of health centers in Grand Rapids. Grand Valley’s P.A. program is one of the most rigorous programs in the state. Even so, the pass rate of the P.A. certification exam is almost 100%. “It’s tough, but you come out better for it on the other side,” says Blake. The program emphasizes putting students in real-life situations. A year of in-class learning is followed by a year of clinical learning including hands-on simulations with patients in the Simulation Center.
“I was immediately blown away, [and] I knew right away, after I left the interview, that this was where I wanted to go to school. At Grand Valley, we’re always pushed to do a little bit more [and] to go out into the community and serve.”
With the encouragement of his professors and the support of the Panopoulos Scholarship, Blake’s drive to give back to his community grew. Last year, he helped to organize the Heels to Heels 5K event in Grand Rapids to encourage community members to exercise. “I was extremely thankful to [the Panopoulos family],” he says. “Their gift left me with a better sense of people helping people.”
Blake is very grateful to his donors and to other donors who support the P.A. program. Resources like the Physician Assistant Student Center Workroom and the iTV connection to the Traverse City campus are only available with their help.
To those donors who give scholarships, he says, “Thank you. This is the time in our lives where we need to focus on our studies. We invest in our futures academically, while gathering debt financially. Any way we can get that debt to come down is a big help.” The gift that the Panopoulos family gave to Blake made it possible for him to focus on school instead of worrying about money. Because of this support, Blake is equipped to carry on his own giving legacy that the Panopoulos Scholarship left with him.