Anna Corey expected to play the violin and the piano all her life, but came to the realization that her passion for music could not overcome a muscle problem that caused her chronic pain. While a student at Lawrence University, she wound up swapping her music major for her other love: biology.

The 2004 summa cum laude graduate of Lawrence still maintains a certain fondness for “The Orange Blossom Special,” a classic tune she was taught by her fiddle teacher Glenn Wood and encouraged to play by her “adopted grandfather” Al Wagner, who took her under his wing when she was the youngest member of the Beaver Dam Area Orchestra. The powerful impact of good health and the value of sharing with others that she saw in that fiddle teacher endure today.

Corey recently was named one of 76 national recipients of a prestigious graduate scholarship from the Virginia-based Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to pursue a medical degree. The Beaver Dam, Wis., native was selected from among a national applicant pool of 1,290 nominees representing more than 600 colleges and universities across the country.

Each of the Cooke scholarships is worth up to $300,000, among the largest scholarships awarded in the United States. She was one of only two students from Wisconsin awarded a Cooke Foundation scholarship and the only student who attended a college or university in the state.

“I truly felt honored when I learned I had been named a recipient of one of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarships,” said Corey. “This award provides me with an incredible opportunity and will enable me to pursue my interest in international and environmental health work during and directly after my medical training without the restrictions of student loans.”

Corey, who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa while at Lawrence, applied her organizational talents during her college career on behalf of a variety of social causes, among them Amnesty International, a Hunger Awareness Week on campus and the annual CROP Walk for Hunger in Appleton. She honed her leadership skills at a National Wildlife Federation conference on women and sustainable development and worked as an unpaid intern for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, focusing on hunger and homelessness issues.

Beginning in mid-August, Corey plans to channel her mutual interests in health and service into a medical career, starting with graduate studies toward an M.D. at the University of Wisconsin. She hopes to focus her interests on helping victims of conflict, poverty and natural disasters through organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. She also is concerned about the consequences of environmental degradation on human health and eventually would like to have an impact on environmental policy.

“I believe physicians should not only treat patients but also serve as health advocates and use their credibility as medical experts to influence policy that affects human health,” said Corey. “During the last few years in the United States, there has been an effort to weaken environmental laws that protect our air and water. From a health viewpoint, this is devastating and unacceptable news and I would like to do whatever I can to reverse this trend.”

Candidates for the Cooke Foundation scholarship undergo a rigorous, two-stage assessment by independent panels of academic experts, including graduate school deans, admissions counselors and faculty. The selection criteria included academic achievement and financial need as well as a will to succeed, leadership and community involvement.

“The recipients of scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, whose standards are exceptionally high, exemplify qualities we all admire, particularly that unique combination of ability and drive that sets some people apart,” said Professor Laurie Kohn of the Georgetown University Law Center, who served as a selection panelist. “What the Rhodes Scholarship is to overseas study, the Jack Kent Cooke awards are rapidly becoming to the best students in America who have financial need.”

Through its scholarships, the Cooke Foundation helps highly motivated, highly driven individuals overcome one of the biggest challenges to their careers: the cost of advanced professional or graduate training. The value and duration of each scholarship can total as much as $50,000 per year for up to six years and is based on the cost of attendance or other grants each student receives.

The private, independent Cooke Foundation was established in 2000 through the will of Jack Kent Cooke.  A self-described “indomitable optimist,” the Canadian-born Cooke was a passionate advocate of life-long learning. As a highly successful businessman who once counted New York City’s Chrysler Building among his holdings, he was perhaps best known as the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and later, the NFL’s Washington Redskins.