COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A student from Jacksonville received a full-tuition scholarship at the end of June to attend medical school in preparation to serve as a Navy physician.
Stephen Christensen was awarded $350,000 from the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which pays all tuition, a monthly stipend of more than $2,3000, and a $20,000 signing bonus in return for a three or four-year commitment to serve as a Navy physician. Physicians serve as Commissioned Naval Medical Officers.
Cmdr. John Hiltz, Commanding Officer of Navy Talent Acquisition Group Pacific Northwest, traveled to Idaho from Seattle to present the “big check” to Christensen in front of friends and family. The presentation ceremony took place at Veterans Memorial Park in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
“It is such a distinct privilege to be able to recognize and celebrate Stephen’s selection as a future Navy physician," said Cmdr. Hiltz. "In a competitive process, his genuine calling to serve others stood out. To see the pride in the eyes of his friends and family only validated our selection, and I look forward to serving with him.”
Christensen said that he is the first in his family to obtain a college degree, but he'll be continuing his family’s legacy of naval service.
“I decided to join the Navy due to a desire to serve my country, be a part of a team, and because of a family history of service in the branch,” said Christensen. “My grandfather entered the Navy after college as an officer and did his training in San Diego where he met my grandmother. He was stationed in Japan in 1956 which is where my father was born. My parents told me my great-great-grandfather served as the camp commandant of San Diego Harbor during World War II.”
Christensen plans to attend Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and will be commissioned as a Navy officer once he graduates. He recently finished his undergraduate studies at Northwest Nazarene University.
“I know joining the Navy will push me out of my comfort zone, show me new places, and give me a platform to reach unique people," said Christensen. "This next chapter in life, simply put, excites me. I get to wake up every day knowing that I have a goal to strive for and a bright future with the Navy.”