Fernando and Emma Tapia Medical Student Scholarship
Fernando Tapia came from the Republic of Panama to the University of Iowa in 1941. He completed liberal arts and medical degrees in 1943 and 1947 respectively, receiving tuition scholarships for both areas of study. These were the times of Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America, but also of World War II. While a medical student he met Emma Hertel, a nursing student from Amana. Emma also received a tuition scholarship to study nursing in which she received her bachelor’s degree in 1947. They married in Iowa City in March of 1947, and as a couple returned to Panama.
After 58 years of marriage, an eventful medical career, and now a comfortable retirement in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Tapias decided to give back a token of their gratitude to University of Iowa. “There is no question in my mind that the University made our lives such a satisfying endeavor,” states Dr. Tapia.
The “eventful career” began with seven years back in Panama where, after his internship, Dr. Tapia went into general practice in the mountains of Panama. There he was also the government’s director of community health. He returned to the United States in 1954 to specialize in psychiatry at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
“Emma’s nursing jobs made it possible to finance my residency as I was one of those in the era of $75/month house staff. After completing my residency, offers ‘I couldn’t refuse’ started me on a career of academic psychiatry, board-certified in adult and child psychiatry, retiring eventually from the University Oklahoma in 1987 as Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.” In retirement Dr. Tapia enjoys the title of Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Tapia feels he owes much to Iowa and was very specific in wanting to grant the scholarships to students from Iowa. “Though we’ve traveled far and wide, and now have left Iowa, our hearts are still there, in Amana and Iowa City.”
In 2005, Dr. Tapia and his wife, Emma, who passed away in 2007, established the Fernando and Emma Tapia Medical Student Scholarship.
Congratulations on receiving the Fernando and Emma Tapia Medical Student Scholarship