girl smiling in Michigan shirtby Lynn Abrahamson, MPH, RN, Grants Manager

The PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health (COF) is pleased to announce the 2021 recipient of the RADM Helena O. Mishoe “Believe” Scholarship – Priya Kalra.

The scholarship program was established by RADM Mishoe to support the career dreams of high school seniors. Her extraordinary public service and scientist career spanned more than three decades at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and included 27 years of active duty in the USPHS Commissioned Corps. 

This scholarship continues her legacy as someone who fosters the dreams of those who have shown resiliency in overcoming challenges and who have an expressed desire to make an impact in the sciences or a health-related field. Candidates for the scholarship are assessed on strength of character, a commitment to community service, and leadership potential.

>Priya Kalra, this year’s scholarship recipient, plans to become a Biomedical Engineer. In her scholarship essay, she addressed the lack of females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and her efforts to introduce other young women to these disciplines. For instance, she taught coding skills during a week-long camp at her local library. According to Priya’s high school robotics coach, she also launched an initiative at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, where young patients had an opportunity to drive the team’s robot and participate in activities to learn more about the robotics program. As someone who is “extremely passionate about the lack of females in STEM fields,” Priya plans to help close the gender gap in college by working with young girls to foster their interest in these areas.

Her participation in community organizations has also been considerable. Priya is active in the South Asian Youth Volunteer Association (SAYA), which provides tools for young people to thrive academically, professionally, and personally. As the head fundraising intern for SAYA, Priya helped raise over $3,000 for school supplies to underserved students. Other involvements include twelve years in the Girl Scouts, working at a local homeless shelter, and serving as the Club founder and President of the local Girl Up Club. Priya is also a member of the school field hockey team and practices Tae Kwon Do.

Morgan DeShazier and Christiana Armstrong were awarded honorable mentions and will receive certificates of achievement. To learn how to donate to the Mishoe Scholarship fund, please visit