At the April 2022 Scholarship Reception, representatives of the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association (WMAA) and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health thanked generous donors and introduced them to grateful medical students who received funds.

They also celebrated the successful WMAA Scholarship Matching Campaign, which ran from October 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021. The WMAA received just over $1 million in new cash gifts to match-eligible funds, says Sarah B. Rothschild, the association’s executive director. WMAA matching funds helped create 32 new scholarships and enhance 16 existing scholarships.

At the event, Rutvi Shah, MD ’22, then a medical student, shared her story about immigrating at age 4 to the United States.

“In India, I lived with my parents, uncle, aunt, cousins and grandparents. My mom had become a teacher at age 18 so she could support her family [of origin] before she and my father got married. And my dad worked very long hours,” she explained.

a group of medical students
Gabriella Geiger, Rodrigo De La Torre, Ashley Portillo Recinos, Sydney Ring, Sonam Dolma, Haley Buerger-Cole, Cristian Ambrosio, Richard Granger and Arissa Milton

Shah described how her father—ahead of the rest of the family—immigrated to Chicago for a job, with $100, two suitcases and the hope of a bright future for the family.

“They taught me the value of hard work, dedication and perseverance,” adding that her parents made many sacrifices to assure the children got a quality education. “Thank you to our scholarship donors whose generosity has meant so much to me and my fellow classmates. Your financial support and your belief in us mean so much.”

Brian Hong, MD ’11, spoke about his motivation to donate money to scholarships.

A rural general surgeon in New London, Wisconsin, Hong said his parents emigrated from Seoul, South Korea, in the late 1970s with about $1,000, limited English-speaking skills and dreams for their kids.

“I saw their sacrifice to make a better life for my brother and me. I admire their selfless attitude, and I hope to pass this along by giving back to an organization such as the UW School of Medicine and Public Health,” he said. “Medical school made [my career] possible, and I want to help others find their passion in medicine by giving back to my class scholarship fund, which reduces medical students’ debt burden.”