- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
In the ensuing year, she took time to learn.
She worked on her relationship with patients. She revised her personal statement. And she grew and matured personally and professionally.
Twelve months later, when it was time to apply for UK’s Physician Assistant Program again, Emma Li Mathews was ready — she was accepted, and her dream was one step closer to reality.
Friday, when the UKPA Class of 2025 has their Blue Carpet Premiere in Morehead, that dream will officially begin for her and her classmates.
“Always in the back of my mind, I knew who I was, and what I wanted — and that was to help people,” said the 23-year-old Morehead, Ky., native. “At the end of the day, I wanted to be a Physician Assistant. I think this day will really feel like the dream is coming true.”
On Friday, accepted applicants will visit their respective campus to make sure it’s a good fit for them before paying their seat fees. Students will meet at the Center for Health Education & Research (CHER 102) at the Morehead Campus and hear presentations from UK Financial Aid, UKPA Residencies, CHS Alumni Services and others. They will also be able to meet and mingle with faculty and staff.
“I’m very excited,” Mathews said. “What led me to UK was their focus on rural healthcare. That really appealed to me. I know I’ve been in Morehead for a long time, but it really makes you appreciate being in a community like this. It’s a beautiful environment with a lot of creativity ingenuity. And there’s just a really good mixture of people who all have something to bring to the table.”
Helping the area she grew up in is important to Mathews, she said.
“You get to serve the community that you were raised in, and you get to serve a population of people that may be underserved in the first place,” she said. “I think they need professionals here, people who understand what they’re going through. That's just special to me.”
After graduating from Morehead State with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, Mathews applied to UK’s PA school, but did not get in. She spent the ensuing year working at two different long-term care facilities, as well as a hospital, where she was able to improve her patient relations and focus on understanding why she felt this was the career she wanted to pursue.
“That was a driving force for me,” she said. “Focusing on the people, the population we serve. It was all a really positive experience.”
And she’s been looking forward to Friday’s celebration.
“It’s the opportunity to finally meet the peers that I’m going to be working alongside for the next few years or so, and to finally exhale, and say we did it,” she said. “Now we get to celebrate with each other, and finally figure out what it means to be — and how to become a better — physician assistant.”