Giving in Action: Luu Chen Scholarship
Whether they are practicing health care, starting a new venture or making philanthropic decisions, Alexandria Luu, MPH’20, and Cherry Chen, MD, pictured at left, are driven by values. “Giving others opportunity and supporting what is important to us is really at the heart of it all,” said Luu.
In February 2021, the couple endowed the Luu Chen Scholarship in the School of Medicine to support students pursuing a master’s degree in public health. “It was important to us to emphasize public health as integral to the medicine we practice and the health care we provide,” said Luu.
Following her time in the Peace Corps, Luu came to Vanderbilt as an MPH student, where she was attracted to the small program size that allowed her to explore the different backgrounds and experiences reflected in the global health track cohort. “The program really allowed me to put the science behind helping others, and it gave me a more meaningful approach to how I contributed my time and effort.” Additionally, the “fountain of mentors at Vanderbilt” and Luu’s time at the World Health Organization in Geneva deepened her understanding of communicating across cultural bounds with a unifying message.
As an internal medicine hospitalist, Chen emphasizes the role of public health as a fundamental part of medicine. During the pandemic, Chen has practiced in both Portland, Oregon, and Dallas, serving as patients’ primary clinician throughout their hospital stays. “The pandemic has changed a lot in terms of how we practice and understanding a new disease process, but we’re still the same doctors taking care of our patients,” said Chen. “The pandemic stressed the importance of public health for us all.”
Luu and Chen are also co-founders of The Real Estate Physician, a business focused on simplifying the process of commercial real estate investing for physicians. Their goal is to empower physicians to have agency over their time by achieving financial independence — a metric that is different for each of their investors. For both their clients and the recipients of the Luu Chen Scholarship, the couple seeks to enable individuals to, as Chen puts it, “focus on what really matters to them.”
While their family backgrounds are very different, Luu and Chen both grew up in Texas and credit strong maternal influences in shaping their values. For Chen, her mother, Susan, was the only one of seven children from her family of farmers who was able to go to college. Susan Chen came to the U.S. in the 1980s from Taiwan and is now an entrepreneur. Luu’s mother, Ann Nguyen, emigrated from Vietnam in the 1970s and is currently in the financial technology industry. Luu is the first in her family to graduate high school and college and receive a master’s degree.
“The scholarship we established is really a testament to how far my mother has taken my family; as a refugee, she didn’t have opportunity to complete her education but always emphasized service and helping the community, which is the mantra I’ve built my career around,” said Luu. – Sarah Wolf