Lewis Singer knows first-hand the significant expense of attending medical school and has set out to make it less daunting for students at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM). As a retired ophthalmologist from the Roanoke region, Singer took an interest in the school early in its development and felt compelled to establish the Lewis J. Singer M.D. Scholarship, which is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. 

“Medical education is a real reach for many families,” Singer said. “I’m grateful to be able to make it more affordable.” 

The first beneficiary of Singer’s generosity is Abby Simpson, a second-year student at the school. Simpson studied neuroscience in college, then worked for three years as a research coordinator to help save money for medical school.

“This scholarship has made a big difference in my medical school journey and has allowed me to focus more on school and less on concerns about loans,” Simpson said. “I am so appreciative to Dr. Singer for his generosity and commitment to the success of VTCSOM students.” 

Singer became involved in VTCSOM when it opened its doors in 2010 by participating in the school’s multiple mini-interview (MMI) process, during which applicants are interviewed in a round-robin style by faculty and members of the community.

“Being involved in the MMIs during the first few admissions cycles was personally rewarding,” he said. “Engaging in conversations with extremely bright, talented prospective students gave me such a good feeling about VTCSOM and the future of medicine.”

Singer observed that the school had quickly become a very competitive environment for its applicant population.

“I’ve watched the school become increasingly competitive,” he said. “The education there is rigorous, but at the same time its small size allows for individualized attention. The opportunity for students to do high-caliber research adds another dimension to the curriculum.”

Singer’s medical education began at Chicago Medical School and included a pediatrics residency at Cornell University. Not long after becoming board certified in pediatrics, he decided to take a new direction and completed a second residency in ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota. He practiced in Roanoke and Lexington before retiring in 2010.

“I’m very grateful for the life I’ve had,” he said. “I’ve had a successful career. I’ve enjoyed good health and good fortune, and this is my opportunity to give back.” 

Singer hopes his scholarship will encourage others to help support the education of future doctors at VTCSOM.

“Scholarships help strengthen the student, which helps strengthen the medical school, our community, and the ripple effect goes on and on,” he said. “Having well-trained, sensitive physicians is so important, and I’m delighted to be a small part of that.”

For Simpson, the dream of becoming a doctor is well on its way, in part by the Singer scholarship. “I have been passionate about the intersection between science and humanity for many years,” she said.  “As a doctor, I hope to serve as a trusted leader of a patient's health care team and to make a difference.”

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