Scholarship donors and recipients gathered to enjoy fellowship and interaction at this year’s Keck School of Medicine of USC annual Scholarship Luncheon held on Oct. 31 in the Harry and Celesta Pappas Quad.
The importance of scholarships in attracting top students and how students’ personal and professional lives had been affected by the gifts was the theme for the afternoon. Emcee Henri Ford, vice dean for medical education at the Keck School, noted that the generosity of donors helps the community and themselves.
“This luncheon gives you the chance to preview the fruits of your investment,” he said. “Seventy percent of Keck School graduates end up practicing in Southern California, and they will make a transformative difference in our society. They are the ones who will take care of you when you need them — it really is investing in your future.”
Keck School Dean Carmen A. Puliafito extolled the virtues of the most recent incoming class and praised its high level of academic achievement and ethnic diversity. However, he said, it is thanks to donor generosity that USC continues to attract the best and brightest.
“The character of medicine in the next 25 years will be determined by the character of medical students now. These are the leaders of medicine in our community and beyond,” Puliafito said. “Our admissions department has done a fantastic job of recruiting quality students, but we need your support to continue.”
Raquel Arias, associate dean for admissions, described the process of going through 7,222 candidate applications to fill the 186 student spots for this academic year. “I look for incoming students as amazing as the ones we already have, and I’m proud to speak to those who make it possible for me to get them,” she said.
Scholarship recipients played an active part in the celebration. During the luncheon, students gave small tokens of appreciation to the donors.
Second-year medical student Lynn Ngai performed a traditional Chinese piece on the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin. Ngai formed the Keck Music Society made up of medical students who play music for patients at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Fourth-year medical student Ali Arastu spoke of his first two years in medical school living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row when he went to medical school during the day and visited the homeless at night.
“I wanted to understand what the homeless went through,” Arastu explained. “I learned about the barriers they face getting access to health care. Despite how inspiring it was, it was also overwhelming. The faculty, resources and inspiration here have given me the skills and support to make a difference and help people.”