Pictured (from left) Karl Tjerandsen, MS1, Heidi Schroeder, MS1, Benjamin Larson, MS3, Katherine Watson, MS1, Ethan Beckley, MS2, Andy Dworkin, MS3
Photo:Caitlin Carlson / OHSU Foundation
In 2010, the OHSU School of Medicine received the largest single scholarship gift ever in its history. The $10 million gift to establish an endowed MD scholarship program was made by an anonymous donor. The scholarship establishes a perpetual source of financial assistance for exceptional and distinctive students who have a high probability of positively contributing to Oregon’s future.
When the Fund Agreement was signed, the donor had not yet decided on the name of the scholarship program. Since then, the anonymous donor has decided to name the fund “The Swindells Family Scholars Program” in honor of the long history of support OHSU has received over multiple generations from the Swindells family. The donor will remain anonymous.
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Thank you message from the 2012 Swindells Family Scholars
Danielle Babbel, Class of 2015
Danielle Babbel, age 25, grew up in Corvallis, Ore., went to school in Utah, but was "dying to get back to Oregon" as soon as she graduated. She has a B.A. Anthropology, B.S. Geography, and minors in Spanish and Chemistry from Utah State University.
In high school, Babbel was introduced to world travel after a semester abroad in Costa Rica. She subsequently returned to Latin America several times, as well as to Rwanda, for a variety of purposes: research on transnational migration, an ethnographic field school, medical volunteering, research for the formation of a non-governmental organization and housing construction. She initially became interested in grassroots organizing in high school as a member of Students for World Awareness. Throughout college she participated in various activist organizations including a group that promoted awareness of African issues, and a group that sought to improve health care quality and access for Latino immigrants.
"I hope to work with diverse communities, specifically Spanish-speaking immigrants, as a physician and to volunteer to work in crisis situations with Doctors Without Borders," she said. "I also hope to remain politically active to promote universal health coverage throughout the country."
Ethan Beckley, Class of 2015
When he was a graduate student at OHSU in behavioral neuroscience, Ethan Beckley, Ph.D. '09, age 31, worked on research that sought to increase our understanding of how steroid sex hormones might contribute to mental illnesses such as postpartum depression. His project brought him into contact with patients and the medical environment. Though he'd always planned to be a researcher, the encounters changed him. He realized that, for him, "The real thrill is making a direct difference in someone's life."
In his second year of medical school, Dr. Beckley's primary interest is in mental health (psychiatry), with special emphasis on mood disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as addiction medicine and women's mental health. Having been raised in a small town, Dr. Beckley says he would eventually like to put down roots somewhere in the Willamette Valley or along the coast.
"Growing up in a small farm town, I knew families caught in the cycle of poverty and low educational achievement," he said. "Seeing how these conditions can lead to poor health shaped my priorities as a future physician. In every part of Oregon, there are still people who are facing these challenges, and my goal is to serve rural Oregonians as one step in improving the health of this state."
"I am deeply honored and thankful to receive a Swindells scholarship. Creating scholarships specifically for medical students shows that the people of Oregon understand that medical school is where the foundations are laid for future excellence in health care. Medical students should be focused on developing their clinical knowledge, reasoning and skills, not worrying about the rising costs of education. For that reason, a gift like this is both a smart investment for health care quality and a show of support for our dreams of helping people."
Andy Dworkin, Class of 2014
Andy Dworkin, age 38, grew up in Bloomington, Ind. He earned a history degree from Stanford and after graduation took a job in journalism, which eventually brought him to Portland. While reporting about medicine, he became fascinated with the gaps in the health care system and the experience of illness. "In particular, I grew interested in the increasing burden of chronic illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes, and how those illnesses and increasing life spans pose huge challenges for health care and society," he said.
Dworkin traded his reporter's notebook for a stethoscope. At OHSU, he volunteered at the Southwest Clinic (a free clinic run by the Department of Family Medicine) and coordinated communications for Health Care Equality Week last year. He also helped lead the Geriatrics and Palliative Care student group and the Healers for Human Rights student group and has volunteered at food banks.
After medical school, Dworkin plans to pursue an internal medicine residency. After a fellowship in geriatrics, he wants to return to Oregon to practice, with a focus on geriatric care. "I would love to work in a setting that uses tools such as home visits, care coordinators, group visits and other non-traditional methods to improve access to health care, including preventive care," he said.
"This is an enormous benefit. I'm a single parent and have extra high expenses for my child's schooling and health insurance. Getting a generous scholarship makes me worry less about debt and focus more on my studies and academic interests."
Brian Garvey, Class of 2013
Brian Garvey, age 28, was born and raised in Oregon, and graduated from Beaverton High School. He left the state to attend Pomona College in California, choosing to major in international relations after a semester of public health research at the University of Havana.
At Harvard School of Public Health, Garvey researched the cost effectiveness of AIDS and TB interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. Continuing his education at OHSU, he has uncovered an interest in rural and international medicine, which he has pursued through summer research in Colombia on health in conflict zones. He has also served as president of the OHSU School of Medicine Senate and co-chair of the Associated Students for the Underserved. In his free time, Garvey enjoys playing music and basketball with friends, and enjoying the many outdoor activities Oregon has to offer.
"I came to medicine through an interest in political economy, anthropology, and social justice. After exploring these areas through other venues, I learned that the most revolutionary work was being done by physicians." His hope for the future is to deepen his work with the underserved in Oregon, and to inspire more practitioners to follow suit. "I will pursue that path through community facilitation efforts and regular refinement of my leadership skills, for collaboration and critical self-evaluation are the keys to success in enacting social change."
"The scholarship has been a true gift, both financially and with respect to the many doors it has opened to become more deeply involved with leadership at the school."
Benjamin Larson, Class of 2014
A fourth-generation Oregonian, Benjamin Larson, age 27, was born in Eugene and grew up in Portland, graduating from Sunset High School. As a classical Hebrew major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., he seemed destined for a life of studying the ancient past. Case in point, Larson wrote a poetic analysis of the first chapter of Lamentations for his senior year thesis and considered archaeology or classical languages as the next step in his career.
Yet during a fellowship in Poland following graduation, he wrote a research paper on the health care for undocumented migrants there. After he returned to the U.S., he worked as an emergency department scribe for Legacy Health System and later as a wilderness therapy field instructor in the desert of south-central Idaho. "I could have happily taught classics as a career, but I wanted deeper involvement in the lives of the living," he realized. After shadowing several internists one summer, he confirmed that medicine was a good fit. "How many other careers allow you to serve people in such an intimate and tangible way, and also spend your life learning and teaching at the highest levels?"
At OHSU, Larson served as class president for two years and will take extra year to complete a pathology student fellowship. He plans to pursue a residency in either internal or family medicine and practice in Oregon. "I feel a strong connection to this state and its reputation for innovative and compassionate medicine."
"I'm humbled to be counted among such impressive students, and very grateful for the assistance."
Rachel Pilliod, Class of 2012 (Graduated)
Rachel Pilliod, age 30, has served as the student representative on the OHSU Board of Directors since July 2009. In this role, Dr. Pilliod has met with state legislators to discuss the significance of OHSU to Oregonians and the importance of state funding to the health care, education and research missions.
A graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in political science Dr. Pilliod is interested in women's health and health policy issues. She has been involved in higher education governance as a former student body president at UO and a past member of the Board of Regents for the Oregon University System.
Reflecting on leadership, she said "Leadership, at its most basic, means showing up and being counted. Engaging in one's community and asking what can be done to help. A simple act, but it matters."
Never did it matter more than when Grace Linklater, Dr. Pilliod's great great aunt, showed up to the University of Oregon School of Medicine in 1921. "She was my grandmother's favorite aunt and set an example for all of the women in our family to follow. It is Aunt Grace who has helped to guide my path at OHSU. When I think of the challenges that she faced as one of four women in her class, I realize the privilege and opportunity that I have as one of more than 60 women in my class. With this privilege comes responsibility – a sense of duty that I've tried to honor by seeking out opportunities to stand up and be counted."
Dr. Pilliod is pursuing a residency in OB/GYN so that she may spend her career serving women and focusing on their reproductive needs. She hopes to practice in academic medicine so that she may incorporate teaching, research and policy work into her daily practice.
Katy Schousen, Class of 2015
After graduating from college, Katy Schousen, age 27, moved to Portland to have an adventure "out west" – and found a home in Oregon. A native of Michigan, she has a bachelor's degree in physics and environmental studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.
While taking pre-medical classes at PSU, Schousen became involved in outreach and empowerment in the Portland community. She has enjoyed working with children from preschoolers to adolescents, as well as adults near end of life: teaching in Montessori schools, working with autistic children and volunteering with Doernbecher, Outside In and hospice programs. In the years to come, she plans to continue to work with diverse populations as a student and doctor.
Schousen has spent her summers as a wilderness guide across the U.S. including in remote Alaska, where clients depended on her for decisive leadership, safety, technical knowledge and compassionate attention to their needs. "The magnitude of trust clients had in me was enormous," she said. "The true power of these experiences, however, was that my tutelage and support empowered each person to take the journey for him or herself. Helping people acquire physical and emotional skills to approach diverse challenges in their lives is the motivation in my medical education." Schousen is honored to be a student at OHSU, where the values of empowerment and compassion are taught and demonstrated daily by her classmates and mentors.
Heidi Schroeder, Class of 2016
Heidi Schroeder grew up in Portland and earned a B.A. from Northwestern University in anthropology. Prior to medical school, she taught middle school science for two years through Teach for America in an underserved community in central Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to planning lessons and labs, she organized the school's science fair, coached the middle school soccer team, implemented a health education program and established "application nights" throughout the year for students and families to encourage them to seek enrollment at high-achieving high schools in the area. "Though I appreciated the many challenging aspects of teaching, I found the most joy when I was working directly with students and their families to help empower them to make informed educational, social and health decisions."
Schroeder found satisfaction in serving others through teaching, but discovered a particular interest in how health impacted on all aspects of a person's life. "Students who were healthy were able to make more substantial academic growth," she noted. "This reaffirmed my interest in practicing medicine. Teaching in Phoenix demonstrated the importance of accessing adequate health care and education, and I am transferring that understanding to my practice of medicine at OHSU."
After medical school, Schroeder plans to pursue a family medicine residency and return to Oregon to practice.
Karl Tjerandsen, Class of 2016
Karl Tjerandsen, 33, comes to medicine not only as his second career, but also as the achievement of a more than decade-long dream to make a beneficial and lasting impact in the lives of others. A Seattle native, Tjerandsen has called Oregon home since 2008. In his previous career, Tjerandsen served as in-house and outside counsel to hospitals, health systems and single- and multi-specialty physician groups, with a focus on health care regulation. He is fascinated by the impact that organizational culture and values have on both patient and provider, and by the ways in which an organizational culture is built – and what causes it to break down.
Several experiences in 2011 solidified Tjerandsen's change in direction. He volunteered with Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro, lending his perspective to a committee tasked with process improvement. He volunteered for two months in a pediatric hospital in Bolivia, rotating through five different service lines. He also spent more than three months serving as an emergency medical technician on a remote atoll in the Pacific Ocean. "I was left with a deepened appreciation for the art and science of medicine, and the conviction that medicine is where I have always belonged," he said.
After graduation from medical school, Tjerandsen plans to pursue a primary care residency and hopes to remain in or return to Oregon to practice. He holds a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and a B.A. from Whitman College.
"Being named a Swindells Family Scholar is an unbelievable honor, and one that will help facilitate a career that is dedicated to the service of this state and its residents."
Katherine Watson, Class of 2016
Kate Watson, age 26, grew up in Olympia, Wash. At Wellesley College, she discovered an interest in health economics and explored a career in that field. She realized, though, that she wanted to "work more intimately with people and to be involved in discovery."
After graduating from college, Watson volunteered as researcher at OHSU before taking research jobs in the OHSU Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation – Spine Center and later in the Department of Surgery – Division of Trauma Critical Care. "Working in research has really stressed upon me the magnitude of questions that still need to be answered and has driven me to pursue a career in academic medicine."
Despite the full-time demands of medical school, Watson still works part-time conducting trauma research at OHSU. After graduation, she plans to pursue a residency in general surgery and then a fellowship in trauma and critical care. She hopes to come back to Portland for her career.