Mercer University School of Medicine Announces 2024 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Scholars

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, April 15th, 2024

Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) recently announced the first cohort of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Marriage and Family Therapy Scholars and the second cohort of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Pediatric Scholars for the 2024 academic year.

These scholars will receive full tuition for up to four academic years and have made a commitment to serve children of rural Georgia after completing their education. The scholars will also receive specialized training at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s (Children’s) facilities, including autism training for the Master of Family Therapy students. 

MUSM selected scholars based on their commitment to become pediatricians or family therapists, strong ties to rural Georgia, character, leadership qualities, community involvement and their commitment to serving in rural, underserved Georgia after their scholarship obligations are met. They must maintain good academic standing. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Rural Health Scholarship Programs were established as part of a joint initiative between MUSM and Children’s, which was announced in February 2023. 

“These scholars are filling a critical need in our rural communities,” said Jim Fortenberry, M.D., chief medical officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “The pediatric expertise they develop through their training will have a tremendous impact on the areas where they serve, and we are grateful for their commitment to the kids and families of Georgia.” 

MUSM Dean Jean Sumner, M.D., FACP said, “Physical health includes mental health, yet rural Georgia has few mental health providers. There is no pediatrician in over half of Georgia's rural counties. The presence of family therapists with additional training in autism will bring profound improvement in mental health to rural areas.” 

The 2024 cohort of Rural Pediatrics Scholars is:

  •  Jimmy Asbell (Class of 2026)
  • Christian Casteel (Class of 2026)
  • Addison Clark (Class of 2028)
  • Logan Dominique (Class of 2028)
  • Anna Catherine Gates (Class of 2027)
  • Haley Holloway (Class of 2028)
  • Ritij Sarvaiya (Class of 2028)
  • Jordan Simmons (Class of 2028)
  • Tré Steel (Class of 2027)
  • Ke’Aysha Willis (Class of 2028)


The inaugural cohort of Marriage and Family Therapy Scholars is:

  • Kyana Brown (Class of 2024)
  • Audrey Pugh (Class of 2024)
  • Lakeshie Robinson (Class of 2025)
  • Haley Troup (Class of 2025)
  • Haley Waters (Class of 2025)


The 2024 scholars were honored during a special ceremony on April 11 in the presence of Dr. Fortenberry, Mercer University President William D. Underwood, Dean Sumner, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center Executive Director Glenda Grant and scholars’ families.