The Psi Zeta Phi Military Sorority has awarded two former volunteers of the Columbia VA Summer Student Program with the Tammy M. Finney Youth Scholarship: $1,500 to each.

The recipients are Serena Parmar, freshman at the University of South Carolina who plans on majoring in neuroscience, and Ethan Hall, a freshman enrolled at Presbyterian College who plans on majoring in biology.

Both participated in Columbia VA’s Summer Student Program from 2016-2020.

“I’m so inspired by the great work these kids have done,” said David Omura, director of Columbia VA. “This is a testament to the work that’s been done by Mrs. Finney and the entire volunteer team here at Columbia VA. I know the future is very bright for our Summer Student Program, as well as for Serena and Ethan.”

The scholarship itself is named after Tammy M. Finney, the Columbia VA HCS’s chief of community relations and engagement and coordinator of the Summer Student Program.

Students assist Veterans and learn about their sacrifices

Parmar's Tammy M. Finney Youth Scholarship award

Parmar’s scholarship award

According to Joy McClendon, founder of the Psi Zeta Phi Military Sorority, the Tammy M. Finney Youth Scholarship was developed to promote the Columbia VA HCS’ Summer Student Program. It also helps exceptional program volunteers further their education.

Student volunteers in the Columbia VA HCS’ Summer Student Program dedicate themselves to assisting Veterans and learning more about their sacrifices, as well as learning more about career opportunities within the health care industry.

When asked about a moment that impacted her while volunteering, Parmar recalled a special project she worked on during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. She recorded herself playing patriotic and classical songs on her flute and set the music to a video with encouraging messages for Veterans at Columbia VA.

Having everyone’s support is “really cool.”

“Hearing how much Veterans enjoyed my video made me realize you don’t have to be in a specific location to still make an impact,” she said. “It’s easy to minimize some of your accomplishments, but taking a step back and recognizing that what I’ve done is something that not many other people have done and having the support of everyone here is really cool.”

The gratitude the students felt could be seen in Ethan Hall, too, who after receiving his scholarship, greeted Finney with an emotional hug that left him in tears.

“Miss Finney has provided unconditional support to me and many other student volunteers,” Hall said. “She has opened up countless opportunities for those who want to achieve  things. Volunteering is not about receiving rewards or advancing reputation, but it’s awesome to be recognized every now and again. I greatly appreciate receiving this scholarship, and I hope to be able to support Psi Zeta Phi in the future.”

“Our program will continue to enhance Veterans’ lives.”

Psi Zeta Phi also presented Finney with its first ever lifetime achievement award.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition and scholarship from Psi Zeta Phi Military Sorority,” she said. “Having a women’s Veteran group to share and believe in my vision to sponsor the education of our youth is powerful. The support we receive helps to ensure that our program will continue to enhance the lives of Veterans. It leaves a lasting impression on the students as they determine where to pursue their careers.”

Learn more about how VA is improving Veterans experience at va.gov/ve.

By Wyatt L. Anthony is a Navy Veteran and a public affairs specialist for the Columbia VA Health Care System.

Share this story

Published on Nov. 21, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.9 min.

Views to date: 430

More Stories

  • Houston VA swore in new honorary police chief 10-year-old DJ Daniel who is battling terminal spinal and brain cancer. “Welcome aboard, Chief.”

  • Navy Veteran Jesse Allison Linam was a chief fire controlman during WWII in the South Pacific from 1940 to 1946. He receives care at the new Texarkana CBOC.

  • New genetic research discoveries may one day help doctors better screen Veterans at risk of suicide and prevent it in the first place.