Scholarship Donors and Students Come Together to Celebrate the Lasting Impact of Generosity
This long-awaited celebration marked the in-person return of one of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine’s most inspiring and uplifting events. The Celebration of Scholarship dinner, held for the first time in-person since 2020, took place on March 10 at the W Hotel in Philadelphia. It was a joyful event, abundant in appreciation for the medical school’s generous scholarship donors. It was also a chance for donors to meet the medical students they’ve been supporting – and for medical students to meet the donors who have not only eased their financial burdens, but who have also shown in a tangible way how deeply they believe in these future doctors.
During the event, three students told inspiring stories of their determination to become physicians. Not just physicians but physicians who will make a difference in health care for underserved patients. Each spoke with grateful hearts about the enormous difference, that scholarship support has made in their pursuit of this quest in terms of their financial wellbeing and their morale.
“I will never have words to describe the gratitude my heart has for you,” first-year medical student Maha Ayub shared during the evening’s speaking program. “To tell you how much how much your gift has motivated me to keep going despite the challenges.”
Ms. Ayub, a Pakistani refugee, came to the United States by herself at age 20 to seek asylum from persecution in her home country and to fulfill her dream for higher education.
“You are shaping the future of health care by investing in students from unprivileged and minority backgrounds,” she told donors. “With your kindness and generosity, you are creating well-rounded physicians who will stand up to fill in the places where the system is broken —because these students have lived in those places themselves.”
The event drew a distinguished crowd of about 200 Temple faithful, including University trustees, members of the medical school’s Board of Visitors, Medical Alumni Board members, Temple Health leadership, faculty, and students.
Among the honored guests were David S. Wilkes, MD ’82, and his wife, Toni E. Wilkes, MD, ’82, who recently established a $2 million endowment for students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. Scholarship candidates will be chosen from members of the Student National Medical Association, which offered support for both Drs. Wilkes during their time as Temple medical students.
Dr. David Wilkes spoke at the event too, sharing the meaning and motivation behind the scholarship the Wilkes endowed. Dr. Wilkes, Dean Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Medicine, said “It’s simple: Support and commitment. We always felt supported during our time at Temple,” he said. “And it is clear that Temple is committed to training students to become the very best doctors who will provide the best service for patients, many of whom are the most vulnerable citizens in the community.”
Reducing medical student debt is a high priority for the medical school. Last year, Temple raised more than $6.8 million in new scholarship support, distributed donor-funded scholarships to 280 students, and increased the medical school’s scholarship endowment to a record-high $56 million, according to Nina Weisbord, Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Temple University and Chief Advancement Officer for Temple Health.
Katz Interim Dean Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS, who gave opening remarks, is herself a donor to the medical school. A few years ago, she established an endowed a scholarship in memory of her father, who had attended Temple as an undergraduate.
Dean Goldberg said that her vision for scholarship support goes beyond the important work of reducing debt. It means making a Temple medical education more affordable, increasing access to the medical school, and amplifying the school’s commitment to equity and justice in medicine.
During her remarks, Ms. Ayub lifted up the support she had received from the community of friends and faculty at Temple. “My time at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine is teaching me to believe in my abilities,” she said. “To make my dream real – of serving those who are marginalized and underserved.”
Another student speaker was third-year student Henning Ander, a native of Sweden, immigrated to the United States when he was 12, and attended college in Orlando, Fla. He described a “roundabout path” to medical school that first entailed training as an emergency medical technician. During his study for a master’s degree in medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University, he focused on disparities, health policy, and structural competency.
“The program both reinforced my growing interest in health care and gave me practical tools to think about how policies and health care can change to better serve communities,” he said.
While at Temple, he has found that getting to know residents of North Philadelphia, including his service at a student-run free clinic at a shelter for homeless men, has been one of the most beneficial aspects of his education. “These relationships continue to inform my thoughts on how we could collectively do better to care for each other and improve our health-care systems,” he said.
A first-year student, Kenneth Jordan, also spoke at the event. He recalled being profoundly impacted during a nursing practicum in high school, when he saw a nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s Disease being badly mistreated. When he reported the abuse, nothing was done to discipline the nurse.
“What a powerless moment. My heart shattered,” he said. “I decided I needed to be a leader in patient care. I wanted to change health care, really have an impact,” he said.
He described his decision to enroll at Temple as “a no-brainer” because of its location “in the heart of North Philly with a robust Black population,” similar to his own back home in Miami. He praised Temple as “a school whose values about health care visibly match its efforts in the community and in our education.”
“When I go back to Miami, I’m going to make sure the generations that succeed me can see the magnitude of their gifts and capabilities.” He promised to “let them know they can be supported in the way you have supported me” and to tell them “just how much they are needed in medicine.”
“Let us hold tight to this feeling of support from our donors,” Mr. Jordan said, “and carry it forward into the future.”
- Lillian Swanson
To make a gift in support of scholarship at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, visit giving.temple.edu/givetomed.
For information about establishing a scholarship fund, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement.