Marilyn Maison, University PA Student, Awarded National Scholarship

May 8, 2024
Marilyn Maison, class of 2024. She is sitting outside, on a bench in front of the silver, campus globe. The background behind her is blurred, and she has one arm slunk over the railing she leans against.

Marilyn Maison.

Marilyn Maison, a graduate student in Westfield State University's Physician Assistant (PA) program, has recently been awarded the prestigious PA Foundation Scholarship, a national accolade offered by the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA). Maison, who is part of the class of 2024, is currently completing her clinical rotations as part of her PA major, with a particular interest in emergency medicine. As an undergraduate student, Maison was highly involved on campus, serving as a Resident Assistant and orientation leader. She also initiated a small book club, meeting with several friends every other week.

Maison's journey into healthcare began after high school when she became a certified nursing assistant, relishing the teamwork and patient interactions. However, her desire for more autonomy and a deeper connection with patients led her to pursue PA school, choosing Westfield State for both her undergraduate and graduate studies.

“The PA field is continuously evolving,” Maison said. “Originally, it didn’t have as much scale as it does now. Physician assistants can prescribe medications, and there’s autonomy in that. Ten years from now, it’ll be completely different, so there’s a lot of opportunities available. I wish for a lot more people to apply to make it diverse a field as possible.”

Attending a campus tour played a large part in her decision to attend the University, with Maison saying she could picture herself on campus. The renown and accessibility of the PA program itself was also a factor, with Maison being drawn to the various opportunities offered as part of the course.

Another aspect that drew Maison to the PA profession was the prospect of a healthy work-life balance, a rarity in many healthcare professions. As PAs are not mandated to complete residencies, they have the flexibility to pursue fellowships aligned with their interests. Maison expressed her enthusiasm for emergency medicine due to its versatility and stimulating nature, with a variety of different conditions and diagnoses to treat on a daily basis.

In 2023, Maison was the recipient of the PA Foundation Scholarship, a national accolade offered by the (AAPA). The AAPA offers  funding to various PA students across the country, awarding more than $2.3 million in funds.

“It was shocking because I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Maison said. After Dr. Susan McDiarmid, Assistant Program Director of the Physician Assistant Program, notified her students of the opportunity, Maison applied for the scholarship and heard back four months later. This was a collaborative effort, with Assistant Professor Jessica Marchesi personally recommending Maison in addition to the Career Center looking over Maison’s application beforehand. Maison has used the Career Center for a number of services, remarking that they had also supported her with her application for the PA program itself.

“I’m so grateful because it was a shot in the dark, and it became fruitful. I’m so happy that they took a chance on me. As for Professor McDiarmid, I’m always grateful.”

Maison praised Westfield State's PA program, describing it as "amazing" and emphasizing the faculty's support throughout her education. She encouraged prospective students to consider Westfield State for its supportive environment and diverse opportunities for growth.

“When you first start out, it can be overwhelming because you’re getting all of this information thrown at you, but you can lean on the faculty and they’re always there to help,” she elaborated. “Once you get through it, you’re living your life as a PA, and I can’t imagine anything better than that. If I had gone to another university, I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities. Having them really made me believe I can do anything. If you’re unsure as a student, even if you don’t know what you want to do, go to Westfield State. It’s helped me go where I wanted, so I appreciate the University for that.”