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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Local students chosen for academic excellence, desire to serve NEPA communities

SCRANTON -- Two incoming members of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s (GCSOM) MD Class of 2026 have been named Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation scholars. Alexis Blackburn of Moosic and Alivia Roberts of Hazleton have been selected for the scholarship, which significantly reduces their medical school tuition burden. Both scholarship recipients have demonstrated academic excellence and a desire to serve the communities of northeastern Pennsylvania. 

They were welcomed by the foundation, leadership of GCSOM and fellow NEPA HCF scholars at a special breakfast held at the School of Medicine.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation (NEPA HCF) was established in 2011 following the sale of Mercy Hospital in Scranton. The foundation is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the people of the region, particularly the most vulnerable and most underserved of the population. The Scranton Area Foundation (SAF) serves as foundation administrator. 

“Establishing this scholarship made sense, given NEPA HCF’s direct charge to improve the region’s health and wellbeing,” said Laura Ducceschi, administrator of NEPA HCF & SAF’s president and CEO. “Incoming medical students who apply for the scholarship must have a demonstrated commitment to practicing medicine in northeastern Pennsylvania and a strong history of service to the community. Giving these students financial support gives them the freedom to choose to stay here in the region and care for our neighbors.” 
“We are grateful to the Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation for giving these deserving students such generous support as they begin the study of medicine,” said Julie Byerley, M.D., M.P.H., president and dean of GCSOM. “The academic road to becoming a doctor is difficult by itself. Financial concerns should not be an extra burden for these talented students.” 

With shadowing and participation in a preclinical experiences program, Alexis Blackburn has been preparing to apply to medical school for years.  She graduated from the University of Scranton and is interested in internal medicine.

Alivia Roberts has worked as an EMT, a medical scribe, a medical assistant and a nursing assistant during the peak of COVID-19. She received her Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degree from GCSOM and now describes herself as “a growing branch in the Geisinger family tree.”

Other current GCSOM students and NEPA HCF scholars include:

Class of 2022:   
Stephanie Tilberry, Taylor - Stephanie recently matched to Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA to pursue her residency in Obstetrics/Gynecology.
Randy Lesh, Scranton – Randy recently matched to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, to pursue his residency in Otolaryngology. 

Class of 2023:
Kristen Richards, Pittston 
Jude Polit-Moran, West Pittston 

Class of 2024:  
James Basting, Moosic 
Rachel Simon, Pittston 

Class of 2025:
Kyle Kidd, Harvey’s Lake 
Parita Ray, Scranton 

About Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) is a member of the Geisinger family. GCSOM offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Danville, Lewistown, Scranton, Sayre and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a portfolio of graduate degrees. The school’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit

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