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Former trustee’s wife supports Keck School scholarships

by Amy Hamaker
Norene Zapanta poses with her granddaughter, Grace, and Grace'€™s sister, Madeline Rose, who recently turned 5.
Photo: Norene Zapanta poses with her granddaughter, Grace, and Grace'€™s sister, Madeline Rose, who recently turned 5.

It’s been 11 years since Edward Zapanta, a founding member of the Mexican-American Alumni Association and the first Latino member of the USC Board of Trustees, passed away, but his wife, Norene, has remained committed to her husband’s support of medical education at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. For her, supporting medical education has become a family affair.

Norene Zapanta recently celebrated the birth of Grace, her second granddaughter. Grace is daughter Jennifer’s second baby girl, and there wasn’t much that the new mom needed. Rather than forgo a shower altogether, Norene and Jennifer asked guests if, in lieu of baby gifts, they would consider making a donation to the Edward Zapanta Scholarship at the Keck School.

To date, more than $1,000 has been given. In addition, in June, Norene made a $50,000 pledge over the next five years to honor her husband’s memory.

Edward Zapanta graduated from the Keck School in 1963 and completed his internship and residency in neurological surgery at LAC+USC Medical Center. He passed away in 2002 from complications from a malignant brain tumor related to a stroke.

The scholarship, which provides funds for Latino medical students, was intially endowed by a $300,000 gift from The James Irvine Foundation. The foundation’s first scholarship was awarded in 2002. Over the last five years, there has been a recipient each year, and awards have ranged from $30,000 to $38,000.

“The cost of medical education can really be prohibitive to a lot of minority students and helping them meets a great need in the surrounding Los Angeles community,” said Norene Zapanta. “Edward was very proud of USC, and the scholarship emphasizes both the medical student and community involvement. This seemed like a nice way to involve my husband in the baby shower and support scholarship as well.

“I’m wholeheartedly behind making donations in support of medical education,” she added. “With the constantly changing landscape of medicine, I think we need to be positioned for the future. We need doctors from all different cultures and walks of life. I would tell anyone who has the ability to support scholarships in whatever way they can.”

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