January 24, 2003

First Chapman scholar selected

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Ryan Grippo stands in front of a painting of Dean John Chapman in Medical Center North. Grippo was awarded the first Dean John E. Chapman Scholarship. (photo by Dana Johnson)

First Chapman scholar selected

Ryan Grippo, a first-year medical student who is the third member of his family to attend Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been named the first Dean John E. Chapman scholar, receiving full tuition to VUSM for the next four years.

Grippo, a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, had visited Vanderbilt University School of Medicine several times more than the average medical school applicant by the time he turned in his early decision application to become a member of the Class of 2006.

His oldest brother, Jim, now in his first year of radiology residency at the University of Florida, was a member of the Class of 2001 and his middle brother, Dan, is currently a member of the fourth-year class. Ryan, the youngest Grippo, was absolutely positive that Vanderbilt was where he wanted to be.

Grippo had, of course, heard of former Dean John E. Chapman from both of his brothers, but had never formally met the longtime dean when he received the phone call last summer notifying him about the scholarship. Grippo was picked for the scholarship based on a combination of merit and need.

The Chapman scholarship was established to honor the former dean when he stepped down from the position after 25 years. Chapman graduated more than 3,317 of the school’s alumni. He has since assumed the role of associate vice chancellor for Medical Alumni Affairs.

When all pledges are completed there will be two Chapman scholars every four years. The scholarship received pledges from alumni, friends throughout the United States, and the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, led by Monroe Carell Jr., said Sarah P. Reynolds, director of VUSM Development & Alumni Relations.

“We received numerous letters from grateful alumni all over the country saying how pleased they were to be a part of this scholarship, how important it has been to have the Dean in their lives, and how glad they are to have been part of his legacy here at Vanderbilt,” said Reynolds.

Grippo said the phone call telling him that he had been awarded the scholarship left him at a loss for words.

I was overjoyed, humbled and honored, all at the same time,” Grippo said. “I’m humbled to receive such an awesome gift. But to be the first Chapman Scholar is an even greater honor.”

Grippo recently had lunch with Chapman and his wife, Judy Jean. “It was a great experience,” he said. “Dean Chapman is tremendously dedicated and has contributed so much to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. That is part of why it’s the place it is today. Dean Chapman fostered a great learning environment and motivated students to work to their potential. Dean Chapman is a very sincere person, very nice and kind. He treated medical students as physicians in training, and that is still part of the medical school’s atmosphere.”

Chapman said that Grippo is an excellent choice for the scholarship bearing his name.

“Ryan expresses the many attributes, both professionally as well as personally, of the holder of the Chapman scholarship,” he said. “This will serve not only the interests of the scholarship holder, but through his participation, the interests of all medical students. The naming of a scholarship such as this one provides opportunity through precept. I am honored that the institution has seen fit to identify a Chapman scholarship.”

Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, Dean of VUSM, said the scholarship is important to the medical school.

“At the retirement gala for Dean Chapman and Judy Jean, one of the things I was so excited to hear about was the establishment of the scholarship in Dean Chapman’s name,” Gabbe said. “I can’t think of anything more important or appropriate than recognizing his contributions to medical education at Vanderbilt. This scholarship, now and in the future, will provide support for students as Dean Chapman did for so many years.”

Gabbe said that Grippo was an excellent choice for the first scholar.

“Ryan Grippo exemplifies the type of student Dean Chapman has recruited to Vanderbilt over the years. He is an individual who is committed to excellence in the classroom and in the community, a student whose family have been members of the Vanderbilt family for several years.”

Grippo, a native of Clearfield, Pa., is the son of James and Susan Grippo. He became interested in science through his father, a Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension agent for Clearfield County with a degree in wildlife biology.

“He taught me to be curious about science so I came to love science, but I also love working with people,” Grippo said.

For two summers, in 1999 and 2000, Grippo shadowed physicians at Clearfield Hospital doing rotations in the emergency department, operating room, ambulatory care, obstetrics, imaging, home health, family practice, and hospital administration. He came away from this experience sure of his career path in medicine. “Medicine allows me to apply what I learn in the classroom to positively impact people’s lives,” Grippo said.

In college, Grippo received the Golden Key National Honor Society Scholarship and was named Outstanding Junior Member in 2000-2001. He was a student marshal for the Eberly College of Science at The Pennsylvania State University and was awarded the Phi Kappa Phi National Award of Excellence in 2002.

The first-year medical student is undecided about which specialty of medicine he hopes to pursue, but is very interested in medical missions work and hopes to participate in VUSM’s outreach opportunities.

“I plan on participating in a medical mission to Peru this summer because it’s important to me to give back to those less fortunate,” Grippo said.