Most kids are at least a little scared of shots. When she was 4 years old, College of Charleston senior Victoria Bailey was no different – and the cacophony of children screaming and crying in the waiting room didn’t help. 

But – the moment her pediatrician walked in – she forgot all of that. She knew it’d be OK. She also knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“In that moment, I decided to be a physician,” she recalls. “She was just so calm, and I thought, ‘I want to do that!’”

She was determined. And her goal hadn’t faltered at all when, in fifth grade, she got sick and had to go to the doctor, who immediately diagnosed her with bronchitis.

“I was like, ‘Really? That fast?’ I was amazed,” she remembers. “I said to myself, ‘I want that knowledge. I want to know everything there is – and to be able to use it to help people.’”

It only made her more resolute – and she has continued on the path toward a career in medicine ever since, studying biology at the College and hoping to go on to medical school when she graduates.

“There’s a lot to learn. Medicine isn’t easy. It’s a tough path to take. It’s a financially tough road, too,” says Bailey, who this year received the J. Gorman ’43 and Gladys Thomas Endowed Memorial Alumni Scholarship. “Getting this scholarship was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders – I can concentrate on my classes and prepare for medical school.”

To honor his father and mother, Gary Thomas ’83 established the scholarship for a rising junior or senior who is a member of the Pre-Medical Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and plans a career in medicine.

“My intention with this scholarship and my relationships with the recipients is just one opportunity to be connected to the next generation, the next leaders in medicine,” says Thomas, an oncologist in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “I am only helping these students move forward and be successful. And at the same time, I am paying it back for all the College did for me. It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

RELATED: Read about a past recipient of the Thomas Scholarship.

And it’s one of the most reassuring things Bailey has ever received.

“This scholarship is a good reminder of why I’m doing what I do. Like, ‘You’re on the right path. You’re putting all this work in, but it’s going to pay off. You can do it. You’ve got this,’” says Bailey. “It feels really good to be reminded of that – and to know that there’s someone out there who is rooting for you and really cares.”

Someone, perhaps, like a physician. 

Featured image: Victoria Bailey and Gary Thomas.