Student awarded American Osteopathic Foundation Edward and Joanne Loniewski Merit Scholarship


The American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF) has been proudly serving the Osteopathic profession since 1949. As a nationally-serving nonprofit organization, it supports and invests in the osteopathic medical profession from all angles. Their five funding pillars – Educational Scholarships, Community Service, Research, International Humanitarian Work and Osteopathic Recognition – have guided them in their mission to “support programs and services that promote osteopathic medicine and enhance patient-centered care.”

Under the Educational pillar, the Edward and Joanne Loniewski Merit Scholarship was created by the couple to combine their deep commitment to the AOF with their love for the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM). Through this scholarship each year, one osteopathic medical student in their third or fourth year at MSUCOM is selected to receive a $3,000 scholarship. This student must be in good academic standing, show exceptionally strong leadership skills and demonstrate financial need.

This year, Jeff Kuhary (OMS-IV), was chosen to receive the Edward and Joanne Loniewski Merit Scholarship. Born and raised in the metro-Detroit area, Kuhary is the first in his family to graduate from college. He began his undergraduate education in business at the University of Michigan (UM), but soon realized it wasn’t the path for him. Though no one in his family is in the medical field, his parents steered him in that direction because they knew he could succeed. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in biomolecular science from UM, Kuhary continued his education with the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Though he’s always done well academically, Kuhary said there’s “nothing like med school.” This mutual laborious experience is what forms the foundation of the bond that he says is shared by medical students at MSUCOM. In addition to the intense rigor of his courses, Kuhary managed to work while also participating in extracurricular activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked at MSU’s triage. During the height of the pandemic, he also spearheaded a project that would simultaneously provide companionship for patients in elder-care facilities, while giving students experience talking with patients. This project organized FaceTime visits between MSUCOM students and elder-care patients during a time when facilities weren’t allowing visitors. Kuhary got the idea when recalling visits to his great-grandmother, and realizing that without visitors, those in elder-care facilities weren’t seeing anyone outside of staff. Kuhary said while he’s not yet legally certified to care for people in a professional setting, he’s still committed to helping others in whatever way he can.

Scholarship Award

Even with a strong resume filled with outstanding credentials and work experience, Kuhary believes at least part of the reason he was selected for the scholarship belongs to luck “because… you look from one med student to the next… everyone’s got the merit, everybody works hard and does incredible things,” he said.

Beyond luck, though, he credits Jennifer Burlingame D.O., for much of his success. Kuhary speaks extremely highly of Dr. Burlingame and believes her letter of recommendation carried a lot of weight in the application process. Dr. Burlingame shares the same high regard for Kuhary, describing him as a well-rounded, enthusiastic medical student whom she had the pleasure work with during his third year of medical school.

“Jeff’s eagerness to learn and share during our didactic sessions often helped steer the conversations and encouraged others to be involved, Burlingame said. “His drive to succeed with his compassion will help Jeff become a truly excellent physician.”

Tiffanie Tabrizi, director of programs, scholarships and awards for the American Osteopathic Foundation, said Kuhary is truly representative of what the Edward and Joanne Loniewski Merit Scholarship is about. Because all medical students are high achieving, all applicants are exceptional, it makes choosing a recipient an interesting challenge, she added.

The AOF saw “everything they look for and more within Kuhary,” Tabrizi said. “Jeff is a well-rounded person, passionate about the osteopathic profession, and committed to patient centered care.”

When Kuhary received the scholarship, he experienced equal parts of “freak-out, excitement and gratitude.” He said wins like this are essential during medical school, as they keep students going amongst the pressure and stress. He was notified that he’d been selected to receive the scholarship at the end of his auditions for rotations, which had been a constant cycle of trying to perfect and impress people. The news regarding the scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time.

The merit scholarship alleviates the immediate pressure of the many expenses involved in rotations that may be out of the area. Juggling multiple rents, food, gas and other costs, Kuhary feels this scholarship has helped him to stay afloat. Additionally, with the price of applications building up, the scholarship released some limitations he previously had. He now feels freer in his ability to apply for multiple programs.

Looking Forward

During his time with MSUCOM, Kuhary has uncovered a strong interest in pediatric ophthalmology and hopes to find a role as a pediatric ophthalmologist in an academic setting, as he’s always had a love for teaching. He’s intrigued by the challenge that is ophthalmology and he’s deeply passionate about the impact an ophthalmologist can have on their patients' lives. Kuhary believes by pursuing a career in pediatric ophthalmology, he can shift the entire trajectory of children’s lives.

Visit the AOF to learn more about the foundation and its scholarships.