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VUSM alumni show scholarship support

Dec. 6, 2012, 10:20 AM

Gathered at Reunion weekend are, from left, Anderson Spickard Jr., M.D. (’57), John Cook Jr. (’76), M.D., Triff Cook, John Wolf, M.D., and John Neeld, M.D. (’66). (photo by Anne Rayner)

In this day of physician shortages and broad-based economic hardship, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) alumni have come together to support the training of the next generation of physicians.

During the recent Reunion 2012, 17 VUSM classes worked to create endowed class scholarships. In addition, overall reunion scholarship fundraising increased by nearly 30 percent.

The Class of 1966 raised the largest scholarship sum among reunion classes this year. Their class fundraising co-chair, John Neeld, M.D., said he was proud of what he and his classmates were able to accomplish.

“Tuition is high, and these young doctors graduate with substantial debt. Vanderbilt competes for top students with other schools that provide scholarships, so our class felt we wanted to be competitive with other top 15 schools in this way,” Neeld said.

The tradition of creating a class scholarship for the annual reunion celebration began during Reunion 2008, when the Class of 1978 created one. That scholarship recipient, Nicholas Giacalone, graduates at the end of this school year.

“I’ve felt most fortunate to be the first recipient of a class scholarship,” Giacalone said. “Not only has it lessened my own financial burden, but it has also provided the opportunity to network with a great number of kind Vanderbilt alumni over the past four years. Getting to know members of the Class of 1978 and learning about their career development has enriched my medical school experience.”

Since that first class scholarship four years ago, the effort has steadily increased. In Reunion 2010, five classes created class scholarships. This year, thanks to a generous match from an anonymous donor, each class that raised $100,000 received an additional $15,000 boost, bringing the total raised for class scholarships during Reunion 2012 to more than $800,000.

The Department of Alumni Relations Medical Annual Giving team says medical alumni at Vanderbilt are consistently generous, but this year’s reunion stood out for the energy rallied around scholarship. Endowed funds are designed to be renewable, so students for coming generations will benefit from these gifts.

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