Military match a dream come true for TCOM couple

By Steven Bartolotta

Military Match Harrell Commission Unt Health Science Center Web

When Kelly Harrell was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in February 2018, it was the start of a fairly-tale journey.

Kelly Harrell Tcom Unt Health Science Center Web
Kelly Harrell

Kelly was commissioned into the Air Force by her fiancé, Blake Harrell. Two days later, the pair of Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine students were married.

The couple met during Kelly’s first year at TCOM in 2016. Blake was heading into his second-year. While the idea of serving her country had crossed Kelly’s mind growing up, she never thought it would be as a physician.

At TCOM, Kelly began the process of applying for the military Health Professions Scholarship Program, which supports medical students. Upon graduation, students train at a military center and then practice for at least three years at a domestic or international military base as a condition of the scholarship.

Blake Harrell Tcom Unt Health Science Center Web
Blake Harrell

Blake was a four-year recipient of the HPSP, but the odds were steep for Kelly. She was applying for a two-year scholarship, of which only four in the nation were available for the Air Force.

“I remember we were on a vacation, and my recruiter called to tell me that I received it,” Kelly said. “We were all elated because this would afford my husband and me a greater opportunity to end up together even though we were matching a year apart.”

With the scholarship in hand, Kelly now knew where her path would lead. Husband Blake graduated from TCOM in 2019 and matched at San Antonio Military Medical Center in Psychiatry. Now, it was Kelly’s turn, and in December she received the news of her match: San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Catherine Dennis Tcom Unt Health Science Center Web
Catherine Dennis

The couple will spend residency together in San Antonio as Kelly begins her six-year residency in general surgery.

Kelly isn’t the only TCOM graduate heading into military service upon graduation. Catherine Dennis matched at Wright Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio, and will be going into pediatrics.

Benjamin Jack will also be going into Pediatrics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Kelly will be promoted to Captain in the Air Force upon graduation. Reuniting with her husband in residency is one dream come true, but the couple has more dreams to fulfill.

“We both love to travel, so it would be a dream of mine for my husband and I to be stationed somewhere overseas while we serve our country,” Kelly said.

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