As the son of a single mother who works as a housekeeper, Eddie Sanchez worried he’d never be able to afford medical school. But thanks to a scholarship from the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, Sanchez will graduate from the UCF College of Medicine Friday (May 16) and then enter one of the nation’s most prestigious residencies – radiology training at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital.
This year, the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation is donating $300,000 to establish a new scholarship -- an endowment that will fund M.D. scholarships in perpetuity -- and is urging other business leaders, community organizations and healthcare institutions to do the same.
“There is that special moment, a ray of hope, when a doctor and a patient connect on a path to wellness and health. Through this campaign we want to create those special moments now and for generations of doctors and patients,” said David Odahowski, the foundation’s president and CEO in explaining the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation Endowed M.D. Scholarship.
Endowments provide financial support indefinitely because the donation is invested, with the returns used to fund scholarships. Medical school debt is a growing concern as the average student leaves medical school $170,000 in debt. The Foundation was one of the College of Medicine’s charter class scholarship donors, who raised more than $6.5 million to pay for four years of tuition, fees and living expenses for each student. That generosity made UCF the first medical school in U.S. history to offer full scholarships for an entire class. The charter class, which graduated in May 2013, demonstrated its gratitude by establishing a $300,000 endowed scholarship. The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation is hoping its latest gift and the charter class’ contribution will encourage others to fund endowed medical scholarships. To date, the campaign has helped the college collect more than $1 million in M.D. scholarship endowments.
“We are grateful to the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation for its continued support,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the medical school. “The foundation’s generosity will help UCF recruit the most talented students to our medical school and our community.”
Sanchez is one of those students. A graduate of Edgewater High School, he received his undergraduate degrees in microbiology and chemistry and a minor in biomedical physics from the University of South Florida, then wanted to return home for medical school. One of the 55 students who will graduate from the young medical school’s second class, Sanchez said the Edyth Bush Scholarship allowed him to focus on his studies and medical school activities. Those included serving as a peer academic coach, helping homeless veterans, interviewing medical school applicants, and beginning the college’s award-winning gerontology module as part of the Anatomy Lab. He says he fell in love with radiology in Anatomy, a rite of passage for first-year medical students. Thanks to a donation from NeuroSkeletal Imaging (NSI) in Central Florida, each UCF medical student reviews a full-body CT scan of their cadaver before they start dissecting. They can see conditions such as clogged arteries in the heart, surgically implanted hips and knees, and cancer tumors. “I had the opportunity to learn and work with radiology and other technologies early in medical school at UCF,” Sanchez said. “Most medical schools don’t have that. I am scientifically oriented so I love using technology to help my patients. When you think about it, the radiologist is the doctor who knows first what’s wrong with the person.”
In preparing for his residency, Sanchez interviewed with programs across the country. Harvard was his first choice, but he considered it a “reach for the stars” dream – quoting UCF’s motto. So as he opened his sealed match envelope on National Match Day that announced where he would do his graduate training, Sanchez told himself he wouldn’t be disappointed. “I’m amazed, thrilled, ecstatic that Harvard saw something in me and gave me this opportunity,” he said. “And I think my mother is even more excited than I am.”