The Wright Center Hometown Scholars

Two Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education-endorsed students have been accepted into the collaborative Hometown Scholars program and will attend medical school at A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona (ATSU-SOMA).

The Wright Center’s Hometown Scholars program, in partnership with ATSU-SOMA and the National Association of Community Health Centers, recruits future physicians, physician assistants and dentists from Northeast Pennsylvania that want to serve as aspirational examples for young people in the region who aspire to practice medicine and make an impact in a community health setting that provides patient-centered health care.

The program helps regional high school and colleges students who are considering a career in medicine and want to serve their hometown communities as a clinician. Wright Center executives endorse the applications of qualified students who exemplify compassion, civic-mindedness and commitment to serving individuals with limited access to high-quality health care.  

Morgan Schermerhorn of Scranton will receive her Master in Public Health in epidemiology of chronic disease from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in May after earning her undergraduate degree in biology from New York University. The Wright Center for Community Health’s mission to alleviate barriers to quality health care and to those most in need attracted the Scranton Preparatory School graduate to the novel program.

“I am honored to be selected for the Hometown Scholars program,” said Schermerhorn, the daughter of Scott and Kara Schermerhorn. “My interest in medicine began at The Wright Center when I shadowed Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak (president and CEO of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education). I was inspired by the personal dedication and professionalism of Dr. Thomas-Hemak with her patients. Dr. Thomas-Hemak provides a humanistic health care experience with her patients.

“Personally observing this approach, I was drawn to the mission of the community health center – providing compassionate care to all members of the community, especially those who are most marginalized,” she added.

Ceilia Severini of Scranton, a Scranton Preparatory School graduate, holds a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from Bucknell University and a Master of Biomedical Sciences from Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. The daughter of Faith Severini believes the Hometown Scholars program and Wright Center’s mission coalesce with her aspirations as a future health care provider.

“When I talked to Dr. Thomas-Hemak, I was intrigued by ATSU-SOMA’s unique approach to medical education,” said Severini. “I learn best from hands-on experience and feel that, though my years of education have helped me greatly in reaching this point, my experiences as a medical scribe, clinical coordinator and a standardized patient have contributed even more value.

“I also want to improve access and care to those who are most marginalized in our communities. This is the ideal path for me to become a doctor as it aligns perfectly with my values and goals,” she added.

The training and education hometown scholars receive at ATSU-SOMA is distinctive compared to other medical schools, as it intentionally brings students back to Northeast Pennsylvania to care for the underserved and rural communities. Medical students in the ATSU-SOMA program are assigned to one of 16 select community health center partner sites across the country and introduced to the clinical setting earlier than traditional medical schools. Wright Center hometown scholars return to the region during their second year of graduate medical school and begin rotating at clinical sites with preceptors while continuing their academic education through in-classroom and distance-education experiences.

The students begin their studies at ATSU-SOMA in July. Other Wright Center-endorsed Hometown Scholars included Grace McGrath of Dunmore and Moriah Bartolai of Pittston.

For more information about The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education, go to or call 570-230-0019.

Pittston Resident Selected as Hometown Scholar Endorsed by the Wright Center

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education has announced that Moriah Bartolai, Pittston, has been selected as this year’s Hometown Scholar and will attend A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA).

She becomes only the second area resident – and second Wright Center-endorsed candidate – to enter The Hometown Scholars program. 

As a Hometown Scholar, Bartolai’s training at ATSU-SOMA will be unique from other medical schools. After spending her first year on campus in Mesa, Arizona, she will return to Scranton, training in the classroom while also rotating through The Wright Center for Community Health’s clinical settings at least once a week. Bartolai, 23, began her studies this month.

Through a partnership with A.T. Still University, The Wright Center’s Hometown Scholars Program targets and recruits future physicians, dentists and other medical professionals from Northeast Pennsylvania who want to serve as an aspirational example for young people in our region.

The program was created to support the applications of compassionate, community-minded individuals interested in becoming a doctor or other medical provider who want to serve the region they grew up in.

Along with meeting the rigorous requirements to apply to medical school, a Hometown Scholar must spend time in a community health center and receive the recommendation of a community health center leader. In Bartolai’s case, her endorsement came from Dr. Linda Thomas-Hemak, president and chief executive officer of The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education.

“Moriah is dedicated to becoming a highly skilled, compassionate primary care osteopathic physician and healthcare leader who will both serve and advocate for vulnerable populations, communities and humanity,” said Dr. Thomas-Hemak. “Notably, she is to become a first generation physician.”

Bartolai, a 2016 alumna of Scranton Preparatory School, began working at The Wright Center’s Mid Valley and Scranton practices last year, serving as a medical scribe. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she earned a bachelor of science degree in microbiology.

“I’m excited and thrilled for this Hometown Scholars opportunity,” she said. “When I received the call, I realized I would finally be able to move forward in achieving a major milestone … a milestone I’ve been working towards for the last few years.”

One of about 160 medical students in ATSU-SOMA’s Class of 2025, Bartolai will gain exposure to clinical settings sooner than many of her counterparts at other medical schools, which typically don’t offer clinical rotations until the third year.

“It does give you a leg up,” said Bartolai. “I’m going to get a lot more patient experience than I would at any other medical school.”

The Hometown Scholars program at ATSU-SOMA was developed to address the workforce needs of the nation’s community health centers, which provide affordable care to traditionally underserved populations, including low-income individuals and people who face other barriers to healthcare.

Today the program is helping to create a pipeline of exceptional, community-minded medical and dental students who are committed to serving in America’s health centers.

Educational opportunities are available for aspiring physicians, physician assistants and dentists. To learn more about these Hometown Scholars opportunities, please contact The Wright Center’s Office of Clerkships at 570-591-5132 or email