Release Date: February 14, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Buffalo native who is the son of immigrant parents and a first-year student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, has been awarded a Western New York Medical Scholarship, thanks to a generous gift from Catholic Health. It’s the first of three scholarships Catholic Health has committed to fund over the next 12 years, for a total pledged commitment of $384,000 to support UB medical students and the local medical community.
The Western New York Medical Scholarship Fund provides four-year scholarships to local students to attend the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in order to train and retain more doctors in the eight-county area, stemming a steady decline in the number of physicians who practice here.
“Catholic Health is committed to investing in the professional development of our associates and proud to be part of this innovative scholarship program at UB that supports our efforts,” said Joe McDonald, president and CEO of Catholic Health.
In contributing to the scholarship fund, he said that Catholic Health is looking to support a local medical student who has ties to the health system, either as an associate or family member of an associate, and is willing to affiliate with Catholic Health for the commitment period following their residency training.
A life of firsts
This year’s scholarship winner, Dean Salem, has lived a life of firsts: a first-year medical student in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, he is the first in his family to study medicine. He’s also the first in a family of five children and the first to go to college, graduating from UB in 2014 with a BS in medical technology. Before going to medical school, he landed his first fulltime job as a medical technologist at Catholic Health’s Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo, where he also was a volunteer.
“We are pleased to be able to fund a scholarship that helps one of our former associates realize his dreams, addresses the decline of physicians in our community, and gives local medical students the opportunity to practice in their own hometown, which benefits us all,” McDonald continued.
Salem’s parents immigrated to the United States from Yemen, where they had grown up in a village farming community. “They came here in the hope of providing a better life for their children, and I think they have succeeded,” says Salem, who adds that he earned his undergraduate degree for himself and for his family.
“When I graduated, I felt as if I had lifted up my entire family with me,” he says. “My experience at UB demonstrated to my younger siblings the opportunities that college brings.”
Salem is very grateful to Catholic Health and the Western New York Medical Scholarship program for giving him this opportunity.
Scholarship means a “weight lifted off my shoulders”
“Medical school is stressful enough without having to think about the debt that you are incurring while you attend,” he says. “This scholarship allows me to focus singularly on my education rather than on financial constraints, and I believe that I will be a better physician for it. It truly is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
“The University at Buffalo is where my interest in science was fostered,” he adds, “and I am happy to be able to continue my education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.”
The scholarship recipients are awarded about $30,000 annually, and must pledge to practice in Western New York for five years upon finishing medical school and resident training. The highly select criteria require recipients to have excelled academically, to have graduated from a high school in the eight-county region of Western New York and to have demonstrated financial need.