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Alumni Reunion Sparks New Scholarship

June 17, 2024 by Ruth Wendlandt

The Class of 1994 endows scholarship fund benefiting Johns Hopkins medical students

A 25th reunion celebration turned into a night of inspiration when the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Class of 1994 decided to support a scholarship. In 2019, class representative Linda Yau, MD, suggested a fundraiser to show the class’s appreciation for the School of Medicine, and the idea blossomed when classmate Jason Koh, MD, recommended establishing a scholarship. By March 2021 — less than two years later — alumni fully endowed the Class of 1994 Scholarship Fund.

More than 20 alumni from the Class of 1994 are pictured together at their 30th class reunion. They are huddled together inside a banquet hall smiling.
Members of the Class of 1994 celebrated their 30th class reunion in June. Together they endowed a scholarship supporting School of Medicine students.

“I’m proud of our class,” says Yau. “We’re grateful we were able to attend Hopkins and receive a great education. We want to help future generations.”

More than 50 alumni from the Class of 1994 contributed to the scholarship supporting School of Medicine students. Throughout the 21 months of fundraising and virtual gatherings, Yau explains how the class focused on the rising cost of a medical education and student debt. The class reached its financial goal after Yau, Koh, and classmates Matt Wheatley, MD, and Boyd Gillespie, MD, announced an online gift match challenge. Together the class of 1994 raised $100,000 to endow the scholarship.

“Our class is 121 alumni; we’re all over the country. It was great to get back in touch and come together for something bigger than ourselves,” says Yau. “The events of the world at that time, particularly COVID-19, were helpful in a way because people were paying attention. During such a difficult time, people became supportive of trying to fund the scholarship. It was a nice, bright thing to focus on.”

Jennifer Lee, a second-year medical student, calls the scholarship meaningful. She is the second scholarship recipient.

Jennifer Lee is standing in between Jason Koh, MD, and Linda Yau, MD, at their 30th class reunion. They are all smiling with Koh to the left of Lee and Yau to the right.
Jennifer Lee (center) is the second Class of 1994 Scholarship recipient. She met with Jason Koh, MD, (left) and Linda Yau, MD, (right) at their 30th class reunion.

“I’m thankful to be at Hopkins through the Class of 1994 Scholarship,” she says. “I’m here because of their financial support.”

Yau understands the significance of financial assistance, stating she was supported by scholarships and financial aid throughout her schooling. She notes that she selected the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine because of the financial aid.

“I’ve always known the importance of scholarships,” says Yau, who was a Pell Grant recipient as an undergrad at Cornell University.

In addition to the financial support, Lee says networking with the class, especially Yau, has been an impactful experience. She met with Yau and donors at the scholarship dinner in April and at the Class of 1994 30th reunion in June.

“It was nice to hear what a positive experience Jennifer is having at Hopkins,” says Yau. “I want Jennifer and all recipients to know that alumni are rooting for them.”

The encouragement is powerful, Lee says. She underscores the benefits of having conversations with Yau and others to learn about their experiences at Hopkins and their professional journeys.

“I view Dr. Yau as a role model. She’s an inspiring physician and class leader who also happens to be of Asian American descent. To see that parallel is very inspiring to me, as I’m also an Asian American woman,” says Lee.

Yau, a physician in Washington, D.C., completed her residency at Osler Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also worked in internal medicine at East Baltimore Medical Center.

“I value having a mentor in the medical field who came from Hopkins and is still local,” says Lee. “When I’m in med school, I don’t always see the end. To meet Dr. Yau, the Class of ’94, and for them to share things with me is extra special. It makes me excited to pay it forward to future medical students.”

Lee is already giving back. She volunteered for ViSION, a School of Medicine student-driven organization that conducts free vision screenings for Baltimore community members. She is also active in Bamboo Sprouts, a School of Medicine student group that mentors Asian American adoptees, encouraging the children to learn about Asian culture through a variety of hands-on activities.

“I chose to study medicine because I want to engage with the community and contribute to it,” says Lee. “I value supporting the community. While ViSION provides medical care, Bamboo Sprouts is a great opportunity to connect the community in a different way — I love working with children and fostering mentorship.”

Yau emphasizes how it’s a wonderful experience to watch the next generation of physicians learn from Hopkins, and to see the scholarship recipients’ careers unfold. It’s the lasting effect of knowing the Class of 1994 Scholarship will continue to uplift students in the years to come.

“The goal is to help as many students as we can,” says Yau. “We care about their education and training. We want them to do well in the future.”

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Topics: Alumni, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, School of Medicine, Support Scholars