Scholarship Support Soars to $30 Million
Thanks to the support and generosity of our donors, the Weill Cornell Scholarship Campaign has raised more than $30 million to benefit Weill Cornell students.
Weill Cornell Medical College scholarship funds currently stand at $30 million, surpassing the $20 million fundraising target for medical student scholarships in the Discoveries that Make a Difference Campaign. The Alumni Association contributed to this success with a generous $150,000 gift in 2011.
At Weill Cornell, scholarship is one of the most important and valued gifts a donor can make. Without scholarship, many of our best and brightest students would be torn between choosing a career in a high-paying specialty that pays down debt or one that fulfills their true passions. Weill Cornell's history of scholarship and lower tuition allows it to attract-and retain-the most high achieving students. The affordability of quality medical education is of utmost importance to the future of medicine, putting the next generation at the forefront of medical breakthroughs and allowing them to continue to deliver exceptional patient care.
"Philanthropy through endowed scholarships is the only way we can make the debt burden more manageable for our best-and-brightest doctors of today and tomorrow," explains alumnus Natasha Leibel, M.D. '98. "Now is the time to lay the financial foundation that will assure the Medical College's future ability to attract and retain the nation's top students."
Scholarship endowment funds are a top priority for Weill Cornell and the Discoveries Make a Difference Campaign. Since 1997, the scholarship endowment funds have nearly tripled at Weill Cornell, while tuition continues to remains lower than most top private medical schools.
Weill Cornell is extremely grateful to the donors, alumni and faculty who support the educational mission of the Medical College and help our students achieve their dreams of becoming world-class physicians and scientists.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
“This scholarship allows Weill Cornell to attract intelligent, motivated, and caring students from less - advantaged backgrounds and give them access to a world-class education.”- Joseph Pale, third year medical student and scholarship recipient
Weill Cornell medical student Joseph Pale and Dr. Thomas P. McGovern, ‘74
Joseph Pale was working in international business when he started to feel that the job "didn't speak to me. I wanted a career that meant more," he says. He joined Doctors Without Borders, as a field coordinator in hospital clinics in Zambia, Sudan, and Nigeria.
He saw the small contingent of doctors and nurses handle medical problems in precarious settings, with minimal budgets and with absolute devotion to their tasks at hand. He helped hire part-time staff, 90 percent of whom were local and young. "One day we got word that two militias were grabbing kids – our staff – from the marketplace and off the street. They were going to put guns in their hands and put them on the front lines," he says. The local elders asked him to intervene. "I went to the market and stood there and pleaded with the militia. I said ‘I know you need them to serve in your militia but we need them in the hospital, because they're helping to save lives.’"
They listened and let the workers go.
"That was when I first saw the power of medicine. If I could sway men with guns that it was important to allow our staff to manage the health of their wives and children, I knew I wanted to be a doctor," he says.
Today Joseph is a third year medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College.
A HELPING HAND
Shortly after his arrival at Weill Cornell, he met Thomas P. McGovern, M.D., '74, Clinical Assistant Professor of Urology, who had his own distinct path to a medical career. He had majored in engineering as an undergraduate, and planned to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry. "I was going to go into research but the isolation of it bothered me," he says. To see if a doctor's life suited him, he spent a day shadowing his cousin, John McGovern, M.D., the former Chief of Pediatric Urology at the Medical College. Rounds began at 5:30 a.m. and they were still working at 7 p.m. He was exhausted, but his cousin was ready for more.
"It struck me that my cousin was the happiest guy I'd ever seen," Dr. McGovern recalls. "I could sense this life was for me." With the help of scholarship support, he became a doctor.
Dr. McGovern chose to specialize in urology and his career has spanned over three decades. "I've been very lucky," he says. "I love my work and my life." So when a grateful patient wanted to find a way to honor Dr. McGovern, he created the Thomas P. McGovern, M.D., '74 Scholarship. Other patients have also been moved by Dr. McGovern's compassionate care, and contributed to the endowed scholarship. "For them to give back in this way, so that other young people can go into medicine, is deeply touching to me," Dr. McGovern says.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF GIVING
Joseph Pale is the 2008-09 recipient of the McGovern Scholarship.
The scholarship, Joseph says, literally opened the world to him. "I have the freedom to focus on whatever medical specialty interests me instead of worrying about what specialty will help me pay off my school debt," he says. "This scholarship allows Weill Cornell to attract intelligent, motivated, and caring students from less - advantaged backgrounds and give them access to a world-class education."
Because his tuition was paid for, Joseph was able to return to Nigeria this past summer as a field coordinator, in charge of opening a new emergency obstetrics hospital. "I'd like to think that the scholarship indirectly allowed more women access to health care," he says.
Dr. McGovern marvels at the ripple effect of scholarship gifts. "The people who gave to this scholarship never dreamed their gifts would travel this far," he said. "It's the gift that keeps on giving through the generations."