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Students Shine at Annual Event Celebrating the Impact of Scholarship Giving

POSTED ON March 25, 2021

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine once again honored its generous donors at the Annual Celebration of Scholarship on March 11, 2021. Opening the online program, Nina Weisbord, Chief Advancement Officer, remarked, “Your ongoing dedication to the talented and passionate students who embody the future of medicine is truly inspiring, and we hope you can feel our gratitude coming through your screens.”

And without fail, the sentiment of appreciation flowed from the program’s beginning to end. Speaking for himself and other scholarship recipients, third-year medical student Connor Hartzell described the impact of this financial support. "It means the world to me and all my classmates who received a scholarship,” he said. “Personally, it makes me feel connected to the Temple community and that someone’s watching out for me.”

The hour-long event featured a panel discussion with three medical students whose economic burdens had been lessened by scholarships. The student panelists—Civanni Moss, Lauren D’Andrea and Bryan Kim—shared their own messages of gratitude, and described how their medical education had morphed in response to the public-health crisis, the lessons they’d learned and how students had pitched in on COVID-response efforts.

John M. Daly, MD '73, Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, told donors that raising money for scholarships remained the school’s top fund-raising priority. The dean highlighted medical school student debt as “a national issue” and said that medical school graduates now face an average debt load of more than $200,000.

Dean Daly went on to thank the donors, who despite a pandemic year, have committed more than $6 million to scholarships. Overall, the school has raised its scholarship endowment to nearly $38 million. “But even with this commitment,” the dean said, “we still have a long way to go before we can meet our students’ full need.”

In addition to his support for increasing scholarship aid, Dean Daly expressed his commitment to widening access to medical school. “This year, I personally committed to establishing a new scholarship fund – The Dean’s Scholarship for Diversity and Inclusion — to support medical students who are under-represented in medicine. Equity and justice have always been central to Temple’s mission, and this is just one facet of our commitment to being a medical school that embodies that mission.”

Introducing the student panel discussion, Dean Daly acknowledged that the pandemic had presented “a very challenging year” for the medical school and its students. “We had to turn on a dime for many to go to remote education,” he said. He commended the students for tackling all the challenges “head-on with fire and resiliency. I talk about that fire – fire in the belly — that represents our Temple students.”

Dr. Heather Clauss, an infectious disease specialist and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, moderated the panel discussion.

First-year student Civanni Moss said her education was converted into a combination of remote classes and in-person doctoring courses and anatomy labs, which had even smaller student groups than usual. “Overall, we didn’t miss out,” she said.

Third-year student Lauren D’Andrea said the experience, with all the required masks and safety precautions, had taught her “versatility, learning how to be flexible and to adapt to change.”

D’Andrea started her rotations in the fall of 2019, but her schooling was interrupted in January 2020 when she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called a chordoma. After undergoing surgery, radiation and a period of recovery, she returned to school, where she said she was “doing well and in full remission.”

Still, the “intense and life-altering” health event had given her an “invaluable perspective” — the feeling of facing a major operation and the vulnerability of being in a hospital setting. “That was an eye-opening experience and I think it is something that will always shape how I interact with patients,” she said.

Bryan Kim, a fourth-year student who is president of the Student Government Association, spoke of the uncertainties that he and fellow fourth-year students had faced when their clinical rotations were temporarily suspended and there were questions about how the class would meet graduation requirements. But in the end, he said, “we were able to get a full, fourth-year experience.”

The students also spoke passionately about their volunteer work in the North Philadelphia neighborhood where Temple is located, helping to deliver COVID vaccine shots, telehealth services and setting up a patient overflow hospital site in the Liacouras Center.

“I think COVID has given us a lot to think about, such as how do we deliver care equitably to our communities,” Kim said.

Moss, a first-generation college graduate, told the donors that she was “extremely thankful” for the scholarship support she had received. “Without it, I wouldn’t be able to be here.” She said she was hoping one day to “pay it forward and donate to medical students like myself who are in need.”

D’Andrea described the scholarship aid for herself and fellow classmates “as a breath of relief.”

“When you’re applying to medical school, getting that first acceptance is one of the best days of your life,” she said. “Then you start looking at the finances closely, and it can really be overwhelming and stressful to see those big numbers.”

Kim, who plans to specialize in internal medicine, found out on Match Day that he had matched at UCSF. At the scholarship celebration, he shared that the support he had received had given him more flexibility to think about relocation costs, planning for his residency and for personal life goals, “like starting a family.”

“It’s been so warming to know that there are people out there who are willing to support medical students like myself. I’m eternally grateful to you all,” he said.

To watch the full video from the event, click here.

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.

Photo caption: Bryan Kim, fourth-year student and president of the Student Government Association