Scholarship paves the way for success
As a high school student in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Tiara Aldridge wanted to be a physician, but she also realized her family couldn’t finance this dream.
Then, a Vanderbilt University recruiter visited her school and talked about the Opportunity Vanderbilt initiative that provides scholarships and grants for students with financial need. Aldridge visited the VU campus and quickly knew it was the right fit.
“I just felt at home,” she said. “After I really got involved, I noticed how supportive the faculty and staff were of their students. When I visited the medical campus, I got the same feeling there.”
Aldridge received the Diane v. S. Levy and Robert M. Levy Scholarship from Vanderbilt, which, combined with a Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship from the state of Georgia, covered her undergraduate education. She credits this, as well as the guidance of mentors, for her success as an undergraduate and medical student at Vanderbilt.
“I’ll be the first doctor in my family, and while my family is very supportive, it’s also important to have the support of people who’ve been down the same road you’re going down,” she said. “They can help you navigate obstacles and give you realistic expectations.”
As an undergraduate, Aldridge worked with mentor Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, on the Right From the Start study of early pregnancy health. This ignited her passion for women’s and reproductive health. Aldridge is now a third-year Obstetrics/ Gynecology resident at Vanderbilt, and she’s directing two investigations of her own.
She gained a commitment to diversity from mentor George C. Hill, Ph.D., now Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Aldridge served as vice president and then president of the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students. As a resident, she was president of Minority Housestaff for Academic and Medical Achievement. Her activities led to her twice receiving the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Award, presented to individuals who have contributed to creating a more diverse environment at VU.
“As someone who has benefited from being mentored, I know how important that is,” Aldridge said. “It’s also important to support efforts to diversify the face of medicine, especially since we serve such a diverse patient population. I’ve tried to immerse myself in opportunities aimed at both of those goals.”