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Scholarship Donors Open the Door for The Next Generation of ‘Temple-Made’ Physicians

The impact of generosity shines at the annual Celebration of Scholarship Dinner

News April 30, 2024

Group photo of scholarship reciepients

Philanthropic support for scholarships is unique in its impact on the future of medicine. The extraordinary financial burden associated with becoming a doctor can prevent students from pursuing their interests in medicine or keep them from the field completely. Bringing down that barrie ensures that aspiring medical students driven by passion can pursue their dreams of studying purpose-driven medicine at Temple. The generosity behind donor-funded scholarships serves as a gateway, providing access and opportunity.

In recent years, that generosity has grown significantly. the total of donor-funded scholarship dollars distributed annual more than doubled between 2019 and 2023, jumping from $2.3 million to $6 million in just five years. The annual Celebration of Scholarship dinner, which welcomes donors and their scholarship recipients, demonstrates the impact of that generosity in real time.

“It’s not just one of my favorite nights of the year, it is one of the most important,” said Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS, the Marjorie Joy Katz Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. “Because what brings us here tonight represents the essence of what it means to be ‘Temple-made.’ Temple was built to enable passionate students to pursue their purpose. We teach medicine that is rooted in the principles of access and opportunity. And all of you, our donors, have brought them to bear in a critical way.”

“The patients our students will heal, discoveries they’ll uncover, issues they’ll address, barriers that they will bring down… all the good that these doctors will do. And it all begins here.”

‘Getting this far seemed impossible just a few years ago’

With an audience of benefactors and grateful peers, students Manuel Sackey, Emily Rockenbach and Edgar Tello-Ruiz shared their stories and gratitude for the role that scholarship support has played in their journeys to medicine.

“This support has not only alleviated the financial burden on my family but also empowered me to focus on my studies and embrace Temple's enriching experiences,” Sackey said.

Image of ceremonial stage with speaker and guests

During his time at the Katz School of Medicine, Sackey has helped stage “North Philly Flex,” a special event by the Student Diversity Council aimed at supporting local Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses. He also serves as the President of the Student National Medical Association, through which he’s helped foster networks for aspiring, historically underrepresented medical students and doctors.

Citing his mother, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana, and his late grandmother, “a beacon of support in her community,” as inspirations, Sackey said, “I am dedicated to becoming a physician who advocates for those whose voices are often unheard.”

One of Tello Ruiz’s earliest memories is of being in a hospital bed in an unfamiliar country for a month, separated from his family. He would recover to an extent, but the treatment for his large spinal arteriovenous malformation was constantly under threat because he was an undocumented minor whose family did not speak English.

“These experiences made me realize the importance of diversity in healthcare and continue to resonate with me here, at the Katz School of Medicine,” Tello Ruiz said.

As a first-generation medical student from a historically underrepresented background, Tello Ruiz has prioritized mentorship, joining the Latino Medical Student Association, through which his team matched close to 500 Hispanic pre-medical and medical students with mentors across the country.

He also volunteers as a Spanish interpreter and patient advocate at Puentes de Salud, a local nonprofit that provides medical and dental care, as well as health education and outreach services to Philadelphia’s growing undocumented Hispanic population.

“As I reflect on my journey, I realize that my fears and challenges drive the way I approach my medical education, and these are experiences I have kept in mind as I rotated at Temple University Hospital,” Tello Ruiz said.

Although Rockenbach has dreamed of being a doctor since she was 10, she only began to believe she could become one with the aid of her scholarship.

“No one in my family has been in medicine before, and getting this far seemed impossible just a few years ago. You have made it possible for me to recognize my passions within medicine at such a phenomenal institution,” she said in thanking her scholarship’s donor.

Rockenbach’s father is a chief of police. Her mother was accepted to law school, but she opted instead to care for Rockenbach’s brother, who was diagnosed with autism at two-years-old.

“She wholeheartedly embraced this change and became an advocate for children with developmental disabilities,” Rockenbach said, describing both of her parents as “the most selfless people I have ever met.”

While attending Temple as an undergraduate student, she said she rediscovered her love of learning, which confirmed that medicine was the career path for her.

“Having the opportunity to study at the Katz School of Medicine has allowed me to truly spend every day discovering what it means to be a successful physician,” Rockenbach said. “A successful physician is not only one who correctly diagnoses and treats but also sees each patient as a person who has their own story. Unveiling that story in the setting of empathy and kindness is a vital part of the patient physician relationship, something that Temple continues to teach me every day.”

Group Photo with Dean Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS

Paying it forward

Katz School of Medicine alumni James Goodyear, MD ‘75, and his daughter, Sarah Goodyear, MD ‘03, have been longtime donors to the school. Recently, they established an endowed scholarship with an additional commitment to provide term funding, enabling money to be awarded as their endowment grows. To close the evening’s program, they spoke together about the importance of giving back to Temple, creating opportunity for the next generation of students to forge new paths in medicine.

In discussing their motivation for creating the scholarship, Dr. Sarah Goodyear said, “My dad, husband, and I are so fortunate that Temple and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine prepared us to have successful careers and to be the kinds of doctors we’d hoped to be. In establishing a scholarship for Temple students, we hope to pay it forward, ensuring that the exceptional legacy of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine continues to thrive for generations to come.”

Make your gift today to help create new opportunities for a deserving student or reach out to to learn more.

Photo of ceremony venue focus on the lighting on the ceiling