LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — When Sydney Ambrose was a freshman at Lafayette High School she went to see a dermatologist about issues she was having with her skin. That visit would have a big impact on the rest of her life — not only because it improved her skin, but also because of her experience with the doctor.
Her dermatologist did a great job in a caring and compassionate way that left Ambrose feeling valued and more confident in her own skin. She also appreciated that the doctor was a woman, something the teen hadn’t seen nearly as often when getting medical attention.
The teen realized then that she wanted to — and could — help other young girls grow in their confidence and find healing like she had.
Today, Ambrose is a 20-year-year-old junior in the pre-med program at Xavier University of Louisiana with plans to become a dermatologist herself.
Thankfully, she’s receiving support to get there, including a new scholarship from Tampax, the well-known tampon brand from Procter & Gamble.
The inaugural Flow It Forward Scholarship from Tampax aims to close the representation gap of Black women in healthcare, providing annual financial aid to future Black female physicians studying at historically Black colleges and universities like Ambrose.
The 2019 LHS graduate chose the New Orleans HBCU for its location as well as its reputation of success in helping Black students pursue medical school.
“There’s such a gap between Black female physicians and the community we serve,” Ambrose said. “A lot of people in the Black community, through their history, have a lot of mistrust of physicians. Sometimes they want doctors who look like them, and there are not enough of us to serve the communities we need to serve.”
Black women make up about 2.6% (24,143) of U.S. doctors, even though Black people comprise 13% of the U.S. population, according to workforce data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“Equal representation in healthcare has measurable benefits for both healthcare professionals and the communities they serve, including increased comfort levels, communication and trust,” according to Tampax representatives. “When these elements exist, it leads to safer, healthier and stronger communities.”
Scholarships and investments like this can make a difference Ambrose said.
“Disparities in healthcare definitely take time to address,” she said. “It’s not an overnight fix. But this scholarship is investing in Black women pursuing their goals. They’re investing in me financially and helping me be the best physician I can be.”
Ambrose anticipates graduating from Xavier in 2023 and then entering a Louisiana medical school. All of that is going to require resources — financial, academic and family support, she said.
The college junior said she feels that support from her university, her family and now, Tampax. She learned about this new scholarship opportunity through Xavier’s pre-med office.
“Xavier has so many people willing to help us pursue our goals and so many opportunities,” she said. “Of course, I’m a female, so I’ve always supported the Tampax brand. It’s great to get support from a brand I’ve always supported.”
The four-year scholarship supports recipients by filling in the remaining financial need after federal financial aid, merit-based aid and other scholarships, according to Tampax.
Ambrose encourages more women to apply for this new scholarship and to continually look for other opportunities like it.
“It’s important for young students to seek out those people willing to help them,” she said. “They’re out there.”