Tom Ward was always a student at heart.

“He went to law school and, prior to that, he was a dentist,” says Dr. Carolyn Prater of her late husband. “After law school, he decided to go to medical school. Tom was a lifelong student … being a student, being a teacher was his thing.”

Prater – a pediatrician at ACCESS Family Care – and her husband moved to Joplin in 1994. He joined the radiology department at what was then St. John’s Regional Medical Center. While there, he worked closely with the Radiology Department at Missouri Southern to help train students.


At that point in his life, he was in a wheelchair due to a degenerative spinal cord issue. But his condition did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for teaching students about the profession.

“He was a man who could really set his mind to something,” says Prater. “He taught a lot of students and was very well respected in this area.”

When Tom passed away in June 2015, Prater established a patron’s scholarship in his name. The Dr. Thomas L. Ward Memorial Scholarship is awarded to two students each year – one to a firstyear radiology student, and another to a second-year.

Prater said she was excited to be able to meet with two of the most recent recipients during a dinner for university donors.

“They were both really wonderful and I got to tell them about Tom,” she said. “They were exactly the kinds of students he would really like – he loved the kids who were energized and excited about the program.”

Donor-funded scholarships at MSSU come in all shapes and sizes. To discuss scholarship opportunities through the MSSU Foundation, please call 417-625-9615.