Meet the inaugural eight Peach State Scholars, who have committed to completing medical school in three years and entering directly into a primary care residency program in Georgia. Thanks to a generous gift from Peach State Health Plan and matching funds from the state, their tuition will be paid for after they commit to serve an underserved area of the state.

photo of Joseph M. Bailey

Joseph M. Bailey

Joseph M. Bailey of Cumming, Georgia is interested in pursuing internal medicine.  He graduated from Augusta University in 2018 with a BS in cell and molecular biology and then from Mercer in 2020 with a Master's degree in biomedical sciences.  Joseph personally experienced the challenges of living in a community that lacked the type of physician he needed when diagnosed with juvenile Type 1 diabetes, and understands the difficulties of having to travel a long distance for medical care.  He is committed to providing patients with the care they need in their local community.

photo of Cayman A. Bickerstaff

Cayman A. Bickerstaff

Cayman A. Bickerstaff of Powder Springs, Georgia is committed to pursuing a career in obstetrics and gynecology.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2019 with a BS in cellular biology.  Cayman is a military child and appreciates the ability to put down roots in Georgia and bring his enthusiasm and passion for women’s health to a rural community.  He spends many hours working with organizations that help people who have been affected by sexual abuse (Rape Crisis and MCG SAVES), and helping children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS (UGA HEROs and Ryan White).

photo of Claud Bugheni

Claud Bugheni

Claud Bugheni of Columbus, Georgia is committed to pursuing a career in emergency medicine.  He graduated from Columbus State University in 2019 with a BS in biology.  Claud is a US Army Combat Medic who was born in Cameroon, Africa.  He and his family have decided to call Georgia home.  “Meeting healthcare demand in the medically underserved areas of Georgia starts with one physician realizing that need and accepting the opportunity to serve in those areas – I am standing up to be one of those physicians who serves."
photo of Michael Butler

Michael Butler

Michael Butler of Grayson, Georgia is interested in pursuing a career in either family medicine or internal medicine in an outpatient setting.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2019 with a BS in chemistry.  Michael is fluent in Spanish and has worked this year to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to members of the Latino community, including helping to vaccinate almost 1,000 migrant Hispanic farm workers in rural South Carolina.  It is his desire to bring a high level of medical care and leadership to a rural or underserved community who needs a compassionate physician. 
photo of Scotty Hall

Scotty Hall

Scotty Hall of Dexter, Georgia is committed to pursuing a career in general surgery.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a BS in biology.  Scotty’s family has been in Dexter, Georgia for multiple generations and he can’t imagine practicing medicine outside of Georgia.  He grew up in a rural community within a medically underserved county, where most residents had to travel long distances for basic healthcare.  “…but I learned that poverty is a distance in its own right, and things like food insecurity and lack of education only widen the gap. … How could I bring myself to leave?” 
photo of Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez of Adel, Georgia is interested in pursuing a career in emergency medicine.  He graduated from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in 2019 with a BS in biology.  Luis is a native Spanish speaker and has worked to bring vaccines to Hispanic farmworkers.  His family also started their journey to finding a home in Southwest Georgia as immigrant farmworkers.  He recognizes that his home has been long underserved by the medical community and wants to bring a committed physician to Adel. “South Georgia is where my parents sowed our family tree, where I met my fiancée and where I plan to sow our own tree.”
photo of Arika Shaikh

Arika Shaikh

Arika Shaikh of Suwanee, Georgia is committed to pursuing a career in family medicine.  She graduated from Augusta University in 2020 with a BS in cell and molecular biology.  Bilingual in Urdu and English, proficient in Spanish, and a daughter of immigrants, Arika says her “desire to provide support and quality care to underserved populations stems from [her] experiences volunteering at non-profit clinics where [she] witnessed the challenges certain populations face with access to quality healthcare.” She aspires to provide patient-centered primary care in Georgia communities.
photo of My Duyen Hoang Vo

My Duyen Hoang Vo

My Duyen Hoang Vo of Norcross, Georgia is committed to pursuing a career in pediatrics.  She graduated from Emory University in 2017 with a BA in psychology and linguistics and then from Mercer University in 2018 with a MS in preclinical studies in Cell and Molecular Biology.  Bilingual in Vietnamese and English, My Duyen and her family came to Georgia from Vietnam, and she has lived in communities that were underserved and lacked medical care due to language barriers and low income.  It is her desire to provide quality health care to children who are lacking health resources.