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IU School of Medicine names Bicentennial Scholars

IU Bicentennial image

In honor of Indiana University’s bicentennial, IU School of Medicine is awarding 11 highly accomplished students with four-year scholarships and inclusion in a leadership development program involving the school’s top executives and esteemed faculty.

These Bicentennial Scholars are beginning their medical school careers in fall 2020 as IU continues to observe its 200th anniversary. As part of the Class of 2024, each scholar will receive a four-year scholarship which covers the cost of in-state tuition, with an estimated value of approximately $150,000. Students who are not Indiana residents will receive an additional $10,000 annual supplement to help offset their higher tuition.

“Throughout much of IU’s history, IU School of Medicine has successfully prepared skilled and compassionate physicians who go on to serve as national leaders across all areas of health care,” said Paul Wallach, MD, executive associate dean for educational affairs and institutional improvement. “The Bicentennial Scholars program celebrates that legacy and aims to attract exceptional students who will carry on that tradition.”

Through a competitive application and selection process, Bicentennial Scholars were chosen based on academic achievements and demonstrated leadership. Collectively, the scholars averaged an undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.94, and their average Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score is 522; both figures are above the already high averages for students admitted to IU School of Medicine.

In addition to an outstanding academic record, Bicentennial Scholars have demonstrated excellence in leadership. To further enhance their leadership skills, scholars will participate in a formal development program throughout their four years of medical school which will include mentorship by medical education and health care leaders, and close interaction with IU School of Medicine faculty and senior leadership. The leadership program will be directed by Sarah Stelzner, MD, and Jessica Byram, PhD.

“We know modern physicians face expectations, responsibilities and uncertainty not experienced by their predecessors. Recent current events and the need to learn virtually bring this into stark relief,” said Stelzner. “The Bicentennial Scholars program will develop skills such as accountability, collaboration, communication, team management and self-management so our scholars are prepared to be leaders in evolving health ecosystems and in building model healthy communities.”

IU School of Medicine is pleased to introduce the Bicentennial Scholars:

  • Yousaf Abughofah, BS, studied biology and neuroscience and minored in psychology and Japanese language at Indiana University. Hometown: Schererville, Indiana (Lake Central High School)
  • Michael Alenikov, BS, studied microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the University of California-Los Angeles. Hometown: Long Beach, California. (Los Alamitos High School)
  • Rabiah Amjad, BS, studied neuroscience and biology and minored in French at IUPUI. Hometown: Lawrence, Indiana (Lawrence Central High School)
  • Céline Aslinia, BS, studied neuroscience at Indiana University. Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana (Bloomington High School South)
  • Taylor Diedrich, BA, studied economics, minored in Spanish and earned a liberal arts and management certificate at Indiana University. Hometown: Marion, Indiana (Marion High School)
  • Maria Feucht, BS, studied engineering and minored in chemistry at Baylor University. Hometown: Morton, Illinois (Morton High School)
  • Nicole Gavin, BS, studied biology and minored in chemistry and Asian studies at Xavier University. Hometown: Zionsville, Indiana (Guerin Catholic High School)
  • Kayla Higgins, BS, studied psychology and minored in chemistry at Indiana University. Hometown: Valparaiso, Indiana (Valparaiso High School)
  • Emily Merritt, BS, BA, studied neuroscience and chemistry and minored in Spanish and psychology at Indiana University. Hometown: Lebanon, Indiana (Lebanon Senior High School)
  • Neal Patel, BS, studied neuroscience and earned a liberal arts and management certificate at Indiana University. Hometown: Fishers, Indiana (Hamilton Southeastern High School)
  • James Warrener, MBA, MDIV, BA, studied Spanish with a minor in math at Butler University. He received his Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University and his Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. Hometown: Kendallville/Lagrange, Indiana (East Noble High School)

Bicentennial Scholars reflect the academic excellence, as well as the diversity, of IU School of Medicine. They are expected to be student leaders at the medical school who will become next-generation health care leaders, contributing to health ecosystems locally, nationally and globally.

“These scholars will be part of our community of skilled and compassionate physicians and will go on to serve as national health care leaders,” Wallach said.

Learn more about each of the Bicentennial Scholars.


IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.