In March 2014, things were looking up for Brady Hauser.
He was completing postbaccalaureate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, had been preapproved for a medical school scholarship from the U.S. military and had been invited for an interview at a school where he hoped to pursue his doctorate in osteopathic medicine.
Then, at noon on a Monday, Hauser suffered a seizure. He continued to have multiple seizures after being admitted to the hospital and eventually fell into a coma that lasted six days. After his release from the hospital, on his doctor's advice, Hauser withdrew all his medical school applications. After telling his recruiter about his medical problems, his military scholarship also was withdrawn due to the possibility he could have epilepsy.
For many, these challenges would be cause for giving up. But Hauser did not give up, and this fall he will attend medical school at St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada.
Hauser, a 2012 UW-Eau Claire kinesiology graduate, recently was recognized for his perseverance in pursuing his goal to attend medical school as the first recipient of the James and Anne Ramsey Memorial Scholarship through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. The scholarship, presented to Hauser by Sue Schleppenbach, executor of the James and Anne Ramsey estate, was established to recognize a pre-med student who has had to overcome great challenges.
"I am very proud of Mr. Hauser's determination to get into medical school and follow this course of his life," Schleppenbach says. "He is a caring and kind person, respectful, and focuses on each individual as a person. I have seen him work as a personal trainer with all ages and sizes of people, and he gives each one his total attention and shows consideration for their abilities. He has all of the qualities to make an extraordinary medical doctor."
Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, says the legacy of James and Anne Ramsey at UW-Eau Claire continues to grow with the awarding of the memorial scholarship.
"Thanks to the generosity of James and Anne, we were able to establish the first fully funded endowed chair at UW-Eau Claire in memory of James' brother," Way says. "That endowed chair carries Marion Oliver Ramsey's name, and we did not have anything here to reflect the role of James (Kenneth) and Anne Ramsey, who are responsible for this amazing legacy. Being able to help a student in the health sciences, which is where the endowed chair is located, seems to bring everything full circle. Jim and Anne did not have any children, so being able to use some of their estate gift to help a promising young person become a doctor I think would thrill them to no end."
In preparing to apply to medical schools, Hauser had returned to UW-Eau Claire to complete a postbaccalaureate program that would make him more competitive in the application process. During that time, his medical crisis occurred and his military scholarship was withdrawn. After his recovery period, he was as determined as ever to pursue his goal of attending medical school.
"I didn't stay down long," says Hauser, whose doctors later identified meningitis as the likely cause of his seizures. "Two weeks after being out of the hospital I returned to work and school and continued to job shadow physicians around the Eau Claire area. It took me longer to process information, but I got through it. I couldn't drive (Wisconsin law says you can't drive for three months after a seizure), so I rode my bike between work and school multiple times per day —about 40 miles a day. I finished the semester with an A and a B-plus."
Work for Hauser has been at Highland Fitness in Eau Claire, where he is employed as a personal trainer and where he started the firm's Rehabilitation and Wellness program for participants who have actual or perceived barriers to exercise. Hauser started the program after working as a student with Dr. Matthew Wiggins, professor of kinesiology, in UW-Eau Claire's Cancer Recovery and Fitness Program. Due to high demand, cancer survivors can participate for just two semesters in Wiggins' program. Hauser started the Highland Fitness program to provide continued training services to those who can no longer participate in the university program.
Hauser said his volunteer experiences in Dr. Wiggins' program and others led him to his decision to become a physician. He also has volunteered for the organization Angel On My Shoulder, which provides support programming for individuals with cancer and their families; UW-Eau Claire's Community Fitness Program, which serves adults in the Chippewa Valley seeking an exercise program to improve their health and fitness; and Marshfield Clinic's Regional Cancer Center in Eau Claire.
Reflecting on receiving the James and Anne Ramsey Memorial Scholarship, Hauser is quick to turn the focus away from his tenacity in pursuing his medical school goal.
"The truth is that anyone who is or has been successful has had some obstacle to overcome," Hauser says. "That's why this scholarship is more of a testament to the donor than the recipient. I sincerely thank Mrs. Schleppenbach and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. This award is a testament to the generosity and character of James and Anne Ramsey, and I am honored to receive this scholarship. I only hope to one day pay it forward."
Photo: Brady Hauser recently received the James and Anne Ramsey Memorial Scholarship from Sue Schleppenbach, executor of the Ramsey estate.