Jonaphine Rae Mata

Texas A&M College of Medicine
2012 Scholar

Words will never be sufficient to say how grateful I am for you. I will never forget that where I am today, and where I will be in the future, is because of all of you and your belief in me. Thank you for your kindness and support in a cause that is rooted in hope for meaningful change and supports the big dreams of those who aim to create a better and healthier society.

What does the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship mean to you?

The St. David’s Scholarship is a highly valuable source of support, and the stepping stone that has allowed me to achieve my dreams. The St. David’s Neal Kocurek scholarship is not only financial support, but a team of people who invest in their students wholly, ensuring that they are guided and provided the proper tools and support to succeed in achieving their goals.

What are your ultimate career goals and how is the scholarship helping you achieve them?

I want to be a Hematology-Oncology physician, with hopes to practice in an underserved area one day. The scholarship has made it possible for me to take the first step towards achieving this goal. Without the financial support, I probably would not have been able to go a four-year university. Being free from financial fear allowed me to pursue what I truly wanted to do, and achieve my dreams.

What is the coolest experience you have had in college so far?

Getting to meet and thank Colt McCoy and Coach Tom Herman during the Toast of the Town parties.

What are some of the obstacles you have had to overcome in the past and how has the Kocurek Scholarship helped?

I have always struggled with self-doubt, but this scholarship has given me a team of people that has always seen me for who I truly am and my worth as a person, not merely as a student in a scholarship program. The Kocurek Scholarship program has opened up many opportunities for me, including being able to do an internship with the St. David’s Foundation. The internship helped me grow and become more confident in myself. It allowed me to meet people who were instrumental in my growth and success in college.

Looking back, what is one piece of advice you would give to yourself freshman year?

I would tell my self to take more time to stop and and smell the flowers. Life is filled with blessings; it is easy to overlook all of the things one should be thankful for every day. So stop and smell the flowers, because it’s what makes life worth living.

What is your relationship with your mentor like?

My mentor is amazing! She frequently checks in with me to see how I am doing. I have shadowed her a few times during college, and in addition, she has offered to look through my medical school applications and essays prior to submitting them. Now in medical school, I can call her and ask her for advice. Prior to my OB-GYN rotation, I called her for tips and I rocked the rotation because of some of the things she told me to do. Most importantly, when I was dealing with a family health crisis, she was there to be a source of comfort and knowledge. To have someone be your champion in this process is worth more than anything.

What has been your favorite part of being a Kocurek Scholar?

Being able to give back as a St. David’s Foundation intern.

What is your favorite SDNK scholar event?

Yearly Alamo Drafthouse movie nights.

What would your college experience be like had you not received the SDNK Scholarship?

Even with the scholarship at hand, I was working a few jobs to help pay for college expenses and medical school applications and preparation materials. I do not know how I would have coped without my scholarships, and support that I received from my mentor.