Scholarship Donors Make Medical School Possible for Many Students

By April Wilkerson 
Writer, OU College of Medicine

Because of the growing generosity of donors, medical school has shifted from an unattainable goal to a realized dream for many students.

Medical school is expensive – indebtedness for an OU College of Medicine student upon graduation can be $150,000 or more – and much of that debt must be paid before a solid income is realized. But a successful scholarship campaign is making medical school possible for students who previously couldn’t have entertained the thought..


Jeremy Ward, OU College of Medicine Class of 2017, speaks to donors about how their scholarship endowments helped make medical school possible.

“We don’t want medicine to become the province of only the wealthy sons and daughters,” said M. Dewayne Andrews, M.D., executive dean of the OU College of Medicine. “We want it to be the province of our entire population – for people from all walks of life and all socio-economic backgrounds to have the privilege and opportunity to study medicine and become physicians.”

Each fall, medical students attend a dinner event with many of the donors who contributed to their scholarships. Jeremy Ward, Ph.D., Class of 2017, spoke to the group about his non-traditional path to medical school. He first earned a doctorate in cell biology before gaining admission to medical school. He and his wife also had begun raising a family.

“I came to medical school as a 30-year-old and in a different stage of life than many of my classmates,” he said. “At the time I started medical school, I had a 3-year-old daughter who was in daycare. My wife and I had also purchased a house and had the normal bills that a family of three has. Needless to say, going from having an income in graduate school to having no income was a very dramatic shift. Our cost of living, daycare and my medical school tuition had to be met by my wife’s teaching salary and my student loans. When I looked at how much in loans I would have to take out, my heart literally skipped. However, the scholarships I have received have made all the difference. If I had not received these scholarships from you, I don’t know if I would have been able to attend medical school and reach my dream of serving society as a physician and researcher.”

Class of 2017 medical student Tamara Hughes speaks at the annual Scholarship Dinner about the scholarships that have helped make medical school an achievable dream.

Class of 2017 student Tamara Hughes also shared her appreciation for scholarships. Growing up, she was the child who loved getting to know other people and was the first at someone’s side when there was an injury. “If it weren’t for scholarships putting me through both my undergraduate education and medical school, I would have had a lot more strain,” she said.

Donors take a variety of approaches to their philanthropy, some giving individually, others as a group. George Selby, M.D., a 1980 graduate of the OU College of Medicine and now a faculty member in the Section of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine, said he and his classmates maintain a scholarship because they want Oklahoma students to one day practice medicine where they were raised.

“We have a physician shortage, and every student who goes elsewhere we’ll probably lose them to come back to Oklahoma and practice,” he said. “It has a practical impact that lasts for decades when we lose those students.”

 

OU College of Medicine faculty member George Selby, M.D., was the guest speaker at this year’s Scholarship Dinner. Selby and several of his fellow Class of 1980 graduates contribute to a scholarship endowment for medical students.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, 58 scholarship funds, totaling $1.25 million, resulted in 200 medical students receiving scholarships. The college aims to increase both the number of students receiving scholarships and the amount they receive.

For more information about the Second Century Scholarship Campaign, contact the Office of Alumni and Development at (405) 271-2300.