By Susan Trulove
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 26 - April 2, 1998
Gregory Shawver "certainly dispels any stereotyped ideas anyone may have that those who go into medical practice do so for the expected high income," said Ruby Cox, associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech. Shawver, a graduate student in that program, volunteers with the New River Valley Free Clinic and plans to become a primary-care physician in a rural area.
Shawver is Virginia Tech's Graduate Student Service Award winner for 1988.
Shawver began his higher education at Southwest Virginia Community College. He began to think about becoming a primary-care physician because of encouragement he received from a faculty member there, but admits that he was not a good student at first.
When he transferred to Virginia Tech, pre-med advisor George Bunce suggested Shawver volunteer at the Free Clinic. "I went there and the people were real nice," Shawver said. "After working there and seeing how much good a physician can do, I decided to become a family doctor."
He received his undergraduate degree in biology from Virginia Tech in 1996, graduating summa cum laude (3.92 grade average out of 4.0), and has earned all A's in his graduate program. His master's-degree study is of the chronic disease problems of older, low-income participants in Virginia Cooperative Extension's nutrition-education program.
Shawver has been a volunteer with the free clinic for more than two years, serving more than 1,200 hours "as one of the clinics' most devoted and supportive volunteers," office manager Elizabeth Ashe said.
He helped design and implement the clinic's information system, making it possible for them to determine service statistics. "He participates in advisory meetings with staff, other volunteers, and consultants in reviewing the agency's policy and procedures," Ashe said. "His opinions are highly regarded."
But the attribute most nominators praise is Shawver's ability to talk to people and to listen. "He is sensitive and caring, and makes a real effort to listen," said Eleanor Schlenker, HNFE department head, who noted Shawver's record of reliable service, despite a highly competitive premedical curriculum and work schedule while an undergraduate, and later the demands of graduate courses, research, and a 20-hour-per week teaching assistantship.
Shawver also volunteered for a year at Montgomery County Community Shelter, "doing odd jobs," and for a year at Pulaski Community Hospital. He said his volunteer experience "has given me a greater appreciation of the need for more organizations that provide health care to the poor. I plan to continue to volunteer my services."
He expects to enter the University of Virginia Medical School in the fall and hopes he will be able to practice family medicine in Southwest Virginia.