UA Rural Medical Scholars Program Adds 7 Students

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences welcomed seven students from around the state to the Rural Medical Scholars Program, which is exclusively for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. 

The 2023-24 class includes Morgan Bowman, of Cullman; Maycie Edmondson, of Slocomb; Kayla Harris, of Rockford; Griffin Howard, of Jackson; John Kuykendall, of Samantha; Raneisha Lee, of Brookwood; and Ariana Oliver, of Enterprise.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is part of the CCHS Rural Health Leaders Pipeline created to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama’s rural communities. 

This postgraduate, five-year medical education program includes a year of specialized study and a master’s degree in rural community health, along with early admission to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.

Rural Medical Scholars spend their first two years of medical school at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and return to CCHS for their third and fourth years of medical school, which are known as the clinical training years. 

“The Rural Medical Scholars Program is excited to welcome its 28th class and continue in its mission to recruit and nurture students from rural Alabama who have committed to practicing primary care in a rural area,” said Dr. Drake Lavender, associate professor of family medicine and director of CCHS Rural Programs. “We have a long track record of success but realize that there is still much work to be done with regard to the primary care physician shortage in rural Alabama. These students are beginning their long journey through medical school and residency, and we want to make sure they are as prepared as possible for the challenges ahead.”

CCHS also welcomes back Reform native Ikeyreiah Harris for her second year as a Rural Community Health Scholar. 

Like the Rural Medical Scholars Program, the Rural Community Health Scholars Program is a part of the CCHS Rural Health Leaders Pipeline. The Rural Community Health Scholars Program is for rural Alabama graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program but who are interested in health care careers. Students take graduate-level courses, participate in farm field trips, shadow rural physicians, assist with health fairs and screenings or other community service projects, and attend lectures and workshops focused on rural health topics. Additionally, scholars participate in peer support group activities and receive mentorship from rural health practitioners.

A headshot of Morgan Bowman
Morgan Bowman
A headshot of Maycie Edmondson
Maycie Edmondson
A headshot of Kayla Harris
Kayla Harris
A headshot of Griffin Howard
Griffin Howard
A headshot of John Kuykendall
John Kuykendall
A headshot of Reneisha Lee
Reneisha Lee
A headshot of Ariana Oliver
Ariana Oliver
A headshot of Ikeyreiah Harris
Ikeyreiah Harris

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications,, 205-348-8325