Scholars Say Thanks to Donors at Annual Gathering

Post date: Feb 24, 2020 3:49:42 PM

Sarah Sukkar vividly remembers the phone call from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. At the other end of the phone, an admissions officer was telling her that not only had she been accepted into the medical school’s Class of 2020, but that she’d been awarded a scholarship too.

Edward Abraham, M.D., (left) and Alex J. Mechaber, M.D. ’94, (first row right) pose with the student-scholars at the 2018 Medical Education Donors and Scholars Luncheon at the Coral Gables Country Club.

She remembers tearfully calling her mom, as the news of her good fortune began to sink in.

“It was really a dream come true,” said Sukkar, who is a John K. Robinson Endowed Scholarship recipient. “After a grueling year of trying to figure out where to go to medical school, and on top of that, crunching numbers to see how to afford it all, suddenly appeared this once-in-a-lifetime chance – to pursue a top medical education, close to my home and family, with a scholarship.”

The second-year M.D. candidate, who is pursuing a career in pediatrics, spoke at the 2018 Medical Education Donors and Scholars Luncheon, which was held January 27 at the Coral Gables Country Club. The annual event brings together grateful students and donors of Miller School scholarships.

Speaking on behalf of the students, Sukkar thanked all of the donors for their time, guidance, and generosity.

“We are all striving each and every day to make you proud,” she said. “We think about the trust that you have placed in us and the future of our profession.”

Sukkar was one of 35 student-scholars who came to the luncheon to deliver a personal message of gratitude. Thanks to the generosity of their donors, the students are able to avoid heavy financial debt, particularly during a time of rising costs in medical education.

The donors’ financial support helps relay a sense of trust and confidence in the future physicians.

“Having been here now for eight months, I can say that the Miller School of Medicine is a remarkably special place,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “It is special, in part, because of your involvement. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate what you do for our students and how grateful we are for your support.”

Robin Straus Furlong, M.D. ’82, spoke on behalf of the UM Miller School of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Association (MAA), which promotes the school’s relationship with its alumni and students.

“This partnership is vital because scholarship support is one of our most important focus areas of interest,” she said. “Over the years, many alumni have given generously to medical scholarships, particularly to the John K. Robinson (JKR) Alumni Fund. Our success is also due to alumni who are actively working with the Medical Advancement staff to increase the annual pool of scholarship funds by creating endowed class scholarships and increasing contributions to the JKR Fund.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Alex J. Mechaber, M.D. ’94, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education, and Dr. Bernard J. Fogel Endowed Chair, who was also a scholarship recipient as a student at UM.

“I hope that you, too, will one day be inspired to continue the wonderful example set by our donors, so that, like you, future generations of students can have access to a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine education,” Mechaber said.

Some of the donors who were in attendance at the luncheon:

    • Marc and Jerilynn Gidney, and Candice Gidney, directors of the Betty Siegel Reader Scholarship Fund. The Gidneys have made an incredible $1 million commitment to fund a full scholarship each year.
    • Bernie Stein, Esq., and his wife, Lyn Pont, Ph.D., as the attorney representing the estate of Jeannette Newton. Stein was able to secure a gift of more than $1 million to support medical scholarships.
    • Lewis and Esta Ress, who established the Lewis and Esta B. Ress Endowed Scholarship.
    • Lois Weiss, president of the Aaron and Sylvia Rothenberg Foundation, and Dr. Tricia Rothenberg Roth, Class of ’69. The Foundation created a scholarship in memory of their brother, Dr. Kenneth Rothenberg, Class of ’67. Kenneth’s son, and Lois’s and Tricia’s nephew, Dr. Paul Rothenberg, M.D.’13, also attended, as did Lois’s daughter, Janet Dwork.
    • Representing the Rotary Club of Miami, which has provided tremendous support to our students through the Thomas Brown McClelland Scholarship for more than 30 years: Linda Singer, Phil Seipp, Dave Skinner, Norby Rudel, and Noreen Timoney.
    • Jerome Sheldon, M.D. ’64, as a representative of The Medical Class of 1964 Peter Lake Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
    • Steven Chavoustie, M.D. ’81, as a representative of the Class of 1981 Endowed Scholarship Fund.
    • Contributors to the John K. Robinson Fund.