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Kala Hurst, MS '18, DO ’22 
Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal Recipient

May 23, 2022

Kala Hurst, MS ‘18 (DO ’22)

Kala Hurst, MS/Biomed '18 (DO '22), has been named the PCOM Georgia recipient of the Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal, the College’s highest student honor which recognizes outstanding achievement and service to the College, the community and the osteopathic profession.

The award will be presented to Hurst, who was selected by representatives of the campus community, at the Commencement Dinner Dance to be held May 24, 2022, at the Gas South District in Duluth. She will graduate from PCOM Georgia with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree on May 26, 2022, from the Ameris Amphitheatre.

Hurst developed her love for science early in life. In high school, she learned about healthcare careers through the organization Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA). She said, “My fate was sealed. I knew health care gave me everything – contact learning, helping others and making an impact.”

She chose to study osteopathic medicine after working in health care for several years. “I realized I wanted the learning path and autonomy that being a physician gave me,” she said. “I also appreciated the philosophy of treating the whole person, which is emphasized in the osteopathic medicine profession. It seemed to fit my personality and my intended purpose in pursuing a career in health care.”

Hurst grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, graduated from Emory University and enrolled at PCOM Georgia for her master’s degree in biomedical sciences. She said she chose to attend medical school at PCOM Georgia because she believed it “had the structure for her next steps in my journey to medicine.”

“When it was time for medical school, I had already found a community of fellow students, and, more importantly, faculty and staff that I knew I could lean on for the next four years.”

Hurst is passionate about introducing medicine to young people. “What I believe our system could do better is expose this profession early—motivate young minds to know they can take this journey too.”

Along with practicing medicine, Hurst plans to strengthen the pipeline to medical school, especially for underrepresented populations, while increasing more community-based outreach. She desires to teach young providers the implications of the social determinants of health, as well as barriers to care due to healthcare structure and policies. In addition, she plans to become more involved in healthcare policy by becoming an advocate for change.

Who has inspired her along the way? “Oh my goodness, my mother!” Hurst exclaimed. “She was the example I needed to prove to myself that I can put in the work and get true results. When you have less options compared to your peers, that does not mean you give up — you find a way.”

She recalled that her mother worked multiple jobs to support her family. In addition, her mom enrolled in a master’s program full time, while working full time. “My mother inspires me to keep pushing even when the odds may not feel fair,” Hurst said.

Hurst is no stranger to pushing against barriers. Having started CrossFit in 2016, she enjoys weightlifting and competing in local Georgia competitions, placing first and second while competing in her favorites —  the clean and jerk and the snatch.

Hurst advises prospective medical students to “Carve out your own path when there is not one laid out for you.” She said, “Find the destination you desire and fill in the steps to it with every resource, mentor, Google search and Twitter post necessary to get there. It may feel more difficult, but the joy is creating a tailor-made path for your success.”

“Don’t give in to fear,” she said. “The journey to becoming a physician is full of people who may not believe what is inside of you. Do not let their concerns deter you from what is destined for you.”