More than 180 donors, students and university leaders gathered to celebrate scholarship giving at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine on March 31 at USF’s Marshall Student Center.
The annual event, now in its eighth year, united scholarship donors with the student recipients who benefit from their support.
“Scholarships make it possible for students like us to follow our passions and serve the underserved,” said fourth-year MD/MPH student Nicole Teal, who founded the USF Health Nicaragua, a coalition of students and faculty who provide clinical care in Cedro Galan, Nicaragua. “The collective goal of the Morsani College of Medicine to prepare the next generation of compassionate, empathetic physicians, and all of you here are helping us to achieve that.”
Following Teal’s address, the scholarship recipients rose individually to announce their gratitude to their donors, culminating in a standing ovation for the donors at the end of the night.
Several members of USF Health leadership spoke at the event, including Medicine Student Council President Neil Manimala, Associate Vice President Kimberly Constantine, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs Bryan Bognar, and Charles Lockwood, dean of the Morsani College of Medicine and senior vice president for USF Health.
“Last year alone, we raised more than $1.6 million in scholarship funds for the Morsani College of Medicine, and we’ve had more alumni, faculty and staff give than ever before in our history,” said Constantine, who emceed the event and directs the development and alumni relations office for USF Health.
Scholarship fundraising remains a top priority for the University of South Florida, and the medicine program in particular. “We’re now attracting some of the most qualified medical school applicants in the nation,” said Lockwood. “So in order to keep recruiting and retaining these top students, scholarships will become an increasingly important factor.”
Lockwood noted that the average USF MD student graduates with around $158,000 in educational debt. By reducing that debt load, donor-funded scholarships increase career options for talented students upon graduation by allowing them to choose lower-paying specialties or practice in underserved areas.
Two of the winners of the 2016 USF Health Bandaids for BRIDGE Talent Show, MD/MPH student Samson Lu and Cienna Wesley MPH ’14, performed at the event. Attendees also watched “>a video that featured testimonials by several Morsani College of Medicine scholarship recipients.
To learn more about supporting scholarships at USF Health, visit bit.ly/USFHealthScholarships.