Each year, select students at the UC Riverside School of Medicine earn tuition in exchange for committing to practice medicine in Inland Southern California. The program, called the Mission Award scholarship, supports medical students while furthering the school’s goal of increasing medical care in the community.
The School of Medicine can’t support these students on its own, though. Its annual Celebration of Medical Education Gala brings together donors, award recipients, community members, faculty, and staff for a premiere event to raise funds for the scholarship and help create the next generation of local leaders in medicine.
The fifth annual gala will take place on November 19 at the Riverside Convention Center. The 2022 celebration will be held in person after two years as a remote event, giving attendees the chance to meet other school supporters and Mission Award Scholarship student awardees face to face.
Each previous gala raised sufficient funds to fully support one medical student.
“It’s very rewarding to see that each year we are expanding our community of supporters for Mission Award Scholarships. For the first time this year we created an endowed Mission Award Scholarship with a generous donation from UC Riverside donors Teresa and Byron Pollitt, who will match all donations made to the Mission Award Scholarship Endowed Fund to extend the impact of each gift,” said Edna Yohannes, executive director of development.
“The Pollitts’ generous donation will ensure the sustainability of this program and substantially increase the scholarship’s impact on our students and their ability to serve the local community,” she added. “We’re grateful for all of our donors’ ongoing support and commitment to expanding medical care in the Inland Empire.”
“I’m very proud of the Mission Program and want to continue to do as much as I can to support it,” said UCR School of Medicine Board of Advisors member, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science faculty member, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation Board Vice Chair Cynthia Davis. “A substantial number of disadvantaged students who might be struggling through medical school, because they didn’t have sufficient funding to support themselves, can relax and focus on their medical education and training.”
Supporting underrepresented students is also important to Davis on a personal level. She was born and raised in Redlands and remembers the lack of African American role models in medicine when she was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. “To see what progress has been made since I was a child in terms of ensuring that there are more people of color who are able to matriculate through medical school and who have a desire to come back and work in the Inland Empire, it’s so gratifying to me that UCR School of Medicine has been able to develop such a program,” Davis said.
The gala features updates from Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine Deborah Deas, M.D., on School of Medicine milestones and objectives along with the opportunity to meet other donors who support the school. The evening also includes dinner and a program featuring current Mission Award recipients.
For Anita Alamshaw, a Board of Advisors member, talking with students has been a highlight of past events.
“It’s critical that these students bring the gala’s goal to life and explain why this scholarship is so meaningful to them,” she said. “We can read about it, we can hear about it, but when we put a name and a face together and see the difference they’re trying to make in the world, it really is quite impactful.”
As UCR alumni, Alamshaw and her husband have attended every gala and are committed to its goals. Besides the event raising support for the School of Medicine, “the other important aspect is for the students to understand and really know that they’re supported by the university,” she said. “Lastly, it also creates awareness for the community, since UC Riverside School of Medicine does a lot in the local area to serve underserved populations.”
“This is the one big annual event to really celebrate and come together as a community to talk about shared interests,” Alamshaw added. “It gives us the chance to talk about how these students are impacting local underserved communities, how they've been able to give back, and how our support as contributors to the gala helps students, helps the faculty, and helps the School of Medicine really make a difference in the community.”
Next year, the School of Medicine will celebrate its 10-year anniversary and open its new Medical Education Building. Thank you for your support as we expand our ability to serve the community!