The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has awarded the first named scholarships in its short history.

The scholarships were created by three couples, all of them founding donors to the school. While the donors had different reasons for creating their scholarships, they all expressed immense pride in the school and what it brings to the region.

“Medical school is an enormous investment” said Dr. Cynda Johnson, dean of the school. “We are pleased to be able to do our part to help offset this debt for some of our students.”

The three scholarships are the Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship, the Sam and Priscilla McCall Endowed Scholarship, and the Daniel and Katina Carusillo Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Scholarship.

Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship

“Morgan left a positive impression on people in whatever she was doing,” Dr. Daniel Harrington, vice dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, said of his daughter, who spent the summer of 2009 working as an intern at the school. Tragically, that fall, she was abducted while attending a concert in Charlottesville. Her body was found several months later. Morgan, 20, was a junior at Virginia Tech, where she was majoring in elementary education.

“We wanted to find meaning in Morgan’s senseless death,” Harrington said. He and his wife, Gil, started the scholarship in Morgan’s name. To date, the fund has more than 200 donors, including the rock band Metallica, whose concert Morgan was attending the night she disappeared. Proceeds from the sale of the band’s “Enter Sandman” T-shirts at the Virginia Tech Bookstore have boosted the scholarship fund significantly.

What would Morgan think of all this? “She would be pleased that she made such a lasting contribution,” Daniel Harrington said. “Death doesn’t end one’s opportunity for creating good in the world. Gil and I are adamant about keeping Morgan’s legacy alive, and this scholarship is one way we’ve been able to do that.”

The recipients of the Morgan Dana Harrington scholarship are second-year students Christopher McLaughlin of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Tarangi Sutaria of Gaithersburg, Maryland.

As class president, McLaughlin is active in the school’s student council. In his scholarship application, he wrote, “I strive to get everything I can out of my education, give everything back, and leave our school better than I found it.”

McLaughlin is the oldest of seven boys and worked four jobs to help pay for his undergraduate studies at Boston College. He hopes the scholarship will deepen his connection to the school and the community.

Sutaria, a first-generation U.S. citizen, graduated from The Ohio State University. She was involved in AmeriCorps before starting medical school. Her goal is to help others at the school recognize the importance of diversity through basic dialogue.

“Though we share the common goal of becoming good physicians,” Sutaria said, “we each have such unique perspectives on life, and we have taken such dissimilar paths to reach this convergent point in our careers.”

Sutaria is vice president and co-founder of the school’s Humanism in Medicine Student Group. She is developing an adolescent health outreach initiative for students to promote positive adolescent development in the community as role models, mentors, and health educators.

Sam and Priscilla McCall Endowed Scholarship

The McCalls live in Greensboro, North Carolina, where they own and operate a chain of lingerie and gift boutiques throughout the Southeast United States. Sam McCall grew up in rural Southwest Virginia, where access to medical care was limited. He attended Virginia Tech from 1954 to 1955.

“With various health issues in Sam’s family over the years, we’ve always been concerned about needing better access to health care in the region,” Priscilla McCall said. “When I met Cynda Johnson at Virginia Tech’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy meeting in Greensboro years ago and learned about the medical school they were building in Roanoke, I felt it was a dream come true. We were onboard with our support right away.”

In recent years, as Sam McCall has battled his own health challenges, he has been able to undergo the best care possible at renowned facilities in North Carolina. Access to care is no longer a worry for the McCalls, and they said they wanted to help ensure a broader swath of people in Southwest Virginia had a similar level of care.

“The need for health care workers in rural parts of Virginia is tremendous,” Priscilla McCall said. “Our hope is that there will be students who attend the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, fall in love with the area, and eventually practice medicine there.”

The recipients of the Sam and Priscilla McCall Endowed Scholarship are second-year student Michael Gallagher of Wagontown, Pennsylvania, and third-year student Christopher Reed of Burlington, Vermont.

Gallagher grew up in a small town west of Philadelphia in the heart of Amish country. In fact, more than half the patients at the primary care practice he and his family used were Amish or Mennonite. The grass was green and the air was clean, but funds were scarce. Gallagher put himself through college at the University of Pennsylvania with grants, scholarships, and work study. He says he hopes one day to return to a rural area to practice medicine.

Reed grew up in a working-class family and is the first in his family to attend college. For his undergraduate work, he attended Johns Hopkins on merit- and need-based grants.

“My background gives me a more intimate perspective on the problems that our underprivileged patients experience in their interactions with us as physicians and with the health care system as a whole,” Reed said. “I have found that, rather than a burden, growing up socioeconomically disadvantaged has given me a great gift, and it is a perspective that I feel indebted to share with all of the people that make up my family at VTC.”

Daniel and Katina Carusillo Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Scholarship

The Carusillos reside in San Diego, California, where Dr. Daniel Carusillo is the director of anesthesia for the Orthopaedic Surgery Center of La Jolla. They are both graduates of Virginia Tech, Daniel Carusillo in biological sciences in 1986 and Katina Carusillo in systems engineering in 1987.

Daniel Carusillo first learned of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine during a 2007 meeting with a Virginia Tech representative who was visiting West Coast alumni. Within a short time, former President Charles W. Steger and Thim Corvin, senior associate vice president for development and principal gifts, traveled west for a visit.

“They said they were starting a medical school in Roanoke that would be patterned somewhat after Georgetown, which is where I went to medical school,” Daniel Carusillo said. “I’m such a loyal Hokie, I really wanted to help. Having a medical school is a big deal, sort of like the pinnacle for an institution of higher education. And it’s a huge economic development benefit to the community.”

The first recipients of the Daniel and Katina Carusillo Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Scholarship are second-year students Jessica Nguyen of Mechanicsville, Virginia, and Mohammed Khan of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Nguyen worked as a nurse to help pay for her bachelor’s program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her goal is to work with underserved patients both within the United States and abroad.

According to Khan, who earned a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, his volunteer work and participation in international medical trips allowed him to witness the immense impact that medicine can have on society. In addition, his upbringing in a military household instilled in him a duty to serve society in one of the best manners possible, as a doctor.

“My personal experiences,” Khan said, “have prepared me to focus on the greater purpose that is medicine: the alleviation of human suffering.”

For his part, Daniel Carusillo was thrilled to be able to create a scholarship that will help students fulfill their dreams, and he challenged other Virginia Tech alumni to help.

“The journey from medical school to becoming a doctor is a long one,” Carusillo said. “If people want to go forward on this journey, we need to help them along the way.”

Written by Catherine Doss.
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