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Giving in Action: Dean’s Scholarship Challenge Exceeds its Goal at $26 Million

Posted by on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 in Alumni News, Giving in Action, Summer 2023, Vanderbilt Community .

We all know the impact a scholarship can have on a student: It’s life changing.

At the beginning of 2022, the School of Medicine launched a $5 million Dean’s Scholarship Challenge to help ensure that tomorrow’s leaders in medicine are educated at Vanderbilt.

The yearlong matching gift effort, which ended Dec. 31, 2022, aimed to expand scholarship support through a combination of donor gifts and a university match for students in the MD program, Medical Scientist Training Program and other dual-degree programs. Response from the School of Medicine community was strong—with initial response inspiring more challenge funds from Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The Challenge raised $10.5 million, with 33 participants. The total impact on scholarship endowment, inclusive of institutional matching, was $26 million. The funds include match contributions from the University and Medical Center, and support medical school students, as well as the school’s dual-degree programs.

“Thank you to all of the participants in our challenge and for recognizing the importance of reducing the debt burden for our medical students,” said Donald W. Brady, MD, BA’86, MD’90, executive vice dean for Academic Affairs. “These remarkable students are our future physicians, researchers and medical educators. This increase in scholarship endowment allows us to better meet the financial needs of our students who otherwise might accrue significant debt and can allow them to focus on their studies and professional goals without the financial worry.”

Amad Amedy, a second-year medical student, is one of the scholarship recipients. “Scholarships, no matter how big or small, go a long way for someone like myself. Medicine is already so time consuming, that having to make active financial considerations and sacrifices just adds to the stress,” added Amedy. “For example, when I’m studying for an exam and would like to grab a quick meal to go, I instead have to cook my own meal for fear of not being able to pay rent. The same logic applies to outings with friends, where I’ve often had to say no because I couldn’t afford it. With Nashville’s rising living costs, this is becoming even more of an issue.”

Duc Pham, MD’98, received the Canby Robinson Scholarship as a student. He and his wife, Tam Le, have generously supported the Dean’s Scholarship Challenge, building upon their earlier gifts. “Without scholarships, I could not have afforded the education. I would have been deterred; I would not be a doctor today,” Pham said. “Those scholarships were life changing for me. I say ‘thank you’ to the people who established those scholarships.”

With students facing rising costs of medical school, the Dean’s Scholarship Challenge aims to grow the School of Medicine’s scholarship endowment and reduce the debt its graduates take on. The medical school’s yearly tuition, currently more than $64,000, remains lower than many of its peers, yet many Vanderbilt students take on debt. For example, 51% of students in the Class of 2022 took out student loans and graduated with an average debt of $220,000.

Amedy looks forward to continuing his studies at Vanderbilt and possibly pursuing surgery as a specialty area. “Vanderbilt is a beautiful campus, where everything you need is a walk away. The administration is incredibly supportive and will ensure that each student is set up for success after medical school, which helps take the edge off much of the stress associated with thinking about life beyond medical school. The money I receive thanks to donors can go a long way.”

For more information about supporting scholarships in the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, contact Taylor Wood at 615-343-5648 or