‘This Program Will Lift You Up’ — PA Students celebrate Black Bag Ceremony in Morehead

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Mya Faris grew up in a very rural place — McArthur, Ohio, about two hours east of Cincinnati — with a population of about 1,700.

There was one locally owned grocery, no hospitals and no urgent cares. 

“This inspired me to give back to my community,” she says. And she decided to enter UK’s Physician Assistant Studies program to do just that.

Today at 11:30 a.m., she will join others in her UK Physician Assistant class as they celebrate their Black Bag ceremony in Morehead.

“The black bag to me signifies the transition between obtaining knowledge and applying it,” says the 25-year-old, who earned her undergraduate degree from Morehead State. “We will be receiving the tools to practice medicine, and with those tools we will begin to apply the knowledge we have been learning along the way. This is the next big step for us to bring us all closer to helping people in the way we all hope to.”

And for Faris, is means that much more.

“I knew that through becoming a PA I would be able to help people in a very special way,” she says. “In the beginning the approach to medicine a PA uses stood out to me, and as I learned about PA, I became very excited that I could lead my life with purpose through this profession.”

Faris earned an athletic scholarship to Morehead State by running track and cross country, and she says the commitment to the sport was similar to the effort needed for the long days and nights of PA school. 

“The challenges I have encountered in my first few semesters have been so rewarding in the way of knowledge I have gained,” she said. “People often say PA school is kind of like trying to drink from a fire hose — and they weren’t wrong. It has been rigorous, but I am so lucky to have my classmates to lean on and the professors we have in this program to guide me through those challenges.

“UKPA offers a unique experience that was important for me personally,” she continues. “I am from a very rural part of Ohio. Learning about how to best serve underserved populations while living in that population — and in my case growing up in that population — is impactful. When I entered the interview session august 2021, I felt safe with those who interviewed me. That trust developed early and upon arrival those very same faces have taught me a world of knowledge.”

It is the sense of family and community that has helped her along the way, she says.

“My classmates are not only highly intelligent but genuinely amazing people,” she says. “They are role models to me. And I can’t thank the UKPA professors enough for what amazing role models they are. They truly show us all what it means to be a PA. There is intent in what they are teaching us, and I can feel how much they care about both the subject and us as people. This program will lift you up, make sure you don't feel like an imposter, teach you so much, and they will make sure you're prepared for each big step. You can trust this program to prepare you.”