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Distinguished Graduate Heads Off to Med School

After four years at USAO, the 2010 Distinguished Graduate is off to save the world, one patient — and one airman — at a time.

Jacqueline “J.C.” Benda graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology/pre-med in April. She was one of 160 applicants nationally to be given the Air Force Health Professional Scholarship, which will allow her to go to the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Thousands apply for the scholarship annually, said Joe Evans, director of enrollment and records and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.

The day after graduation, Benda was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the U.S. Air Force Reserve and began commissioned officer training a month later.

“Ms. Benda understands the importance of providing compassionate medical care to all airmen and their families,” Evans said. “She already incorporates in her life the USAF core values of ‘Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do.’”

Through the Health Professional Scholarship, the Air Force will pay for Benda’s tuition, books and fees for all four years. After earning her medical degree, she will be reappointed as a captain in the Air Force Medical Corps to complete her residency, Evans said.

“Undoubtedly, Ms. Benda’s most impressive action during her college career at USAO is her decision to serve her country as an United States Air Force commissioned officer,” Evans said. “Ms. Benda excels in everything she undertakes and represents the very best of our graduates.”

Complete with a 4.0 grade point average, she was beyond active at USAO.

She was a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the Beta Beta Beta Honor Society, the Hypatia Honor Society and was named to Who's Who Among American College Students.

Benda also was a member of the USAO Ambassadors, the Biology and Associated Sciences Club, Colleges Against Cancer, the President's Leadership Council, the Student Activities Board, the Volunteer Action Council and the Women in Science group. She played a year of varsity basketball at USAO and volunteered for a list of charities.

Benda received the George Austin Award for Campus Leadership and was a George and Donna Nigh Scholar. To top it all off, she has competed in several marathons.