Claudia Maynard is in her first year of medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) in Biddeford, Maine. Her interest in medicine was inspired after she helped care for her father following his accident during active-duty service.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron Maynard was riding his motorcycle when a vehicle struck him. “Seeing the amount of trauma that he went through physically, mentally, emotionally was something that I will never forget,” Claudia said. “I think being able to witness that firsthand definitely played a role for my passion for caring, being a physician one day.”
The severe injuries endured from the accident resulted in Aaron retiring from the military after 25 years of service. The American Legion recognized Aaron’s service and sacrifice in May 2020 when his daughter received The American Legion Legacy Scholarship to support her education in medical school.
“The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is honoring my father’s service and commitment to the years that he served, and allowing me to have a better opportunity than my father previously had (growing up) because The American Legion is providing me the support and ability to pursue my dreams early on in life – it’s providing me the support through medical school, being able to care for my patients in the community.”
Before applying to medical school, Claudia explored the medical field by shadowing doctors, becoming a licensed nursing assistant to work in a nursing home, and volunteering as a patient support at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Lebanon, N.H. Once she settled on attending UNECOM for medical school, the financial cost became daunting. So she started looking into scholarships. That’s when Claudia came across The American Legion Legacy Scholarship.
“It felt so unreal. This scholarship is so specific, so unique, but what my mold is,” she said.
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship provides financial aid for children of veterans who lost their lives while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher. Application deadline for 2021 is April 15. Apply online here.
When Claudia received a phone call from National Headquarters with news of her being a Legacy Scholarship recipient, she was “speechless. I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me. I felt so grateful.”
Since the scholarship has helped alleviate financial stress, Claudia is able to focus on school activities. She is the president of Global Health Club and co-chair of the Equity, Diversity and Advancement Committee (EDAC) at UNECOM. Claudia said that the EDAC will be making change in the university’s curriculum starting with the fall semester. “I am able to play a part in trying to provide more diversity content to students to better prepare them for the patients that they will see and the patients that they will care for.”
Claudia’s medical career focus is in public and global health. It’s an area of interest sparked from her time living around the world for her father’s military career. She was born in Alaska, but has lived in Italy, Korea, Japan, England, Germany, New Mexico, California, Washington and now New Hampshire where her father retired.
“My father worked hard to provide us with opportunity that he never had. He grew up poor and joined the Air Force and that offered him an opportunity of a lifetime where he went to school (college) at night. So we’re really grateful for that life that we got to have while he was in the military.”
Higher learning was instilled in Claudia early on in life and “I think that has made me independently motivated as well. Both my mom and dad always supported me and tried to give me the best opportunity. I graduated college (from the University of New Hampshire in Manchester) summa cum laude, and learning from my father and his dedication, work ethic and resilience – being able to go to work and then school at night – had a profound impact on me.”
Claudia is grateful to American Legion Riders and other donors to the Legacy Scholarship Fund who make awarding of the scholarship possible.
“This scholarship plays such a special part in my endeavors and the hardships and the challenges that I would have faced without the support of The American Legion. (By awarding a Legacy Scholarship to Claudia) The American Legion is alleviating a lot of stress with the shortages of physicians that are out there and the debt that people face.”