NEWS | February 20, 2013

First-year student wins Virginia Toombs, M.D. Memorial Scholarship


Karina Chavez, a first-year student at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is the 2012-13 recipient of the Virginia Toombs, M.D. Memorial Scholarship.

Karina Chavez
Karina Chavez and her son Elias

As the recipient of the scholarship, Chavez will receive $4,000 toward reducing her medical-school loan.

The scholarship was created in 2000 in honor of Virginia "Ginny" Toombs, a 1982 graduate of the UC Davis School of Medicine, to assist UC Davis medical students who are single mothers with financial need. The primary purpose of the fund is to help cover the cost of fees and tuition. While attending medical school, Toombs raised her young son as a single mother. She took pride in the dual achievement of becoming a medical doctor and raising her son, Cameron, to be a fine young man.

A native of Modesto, Calif., Chavez is the mother of a 2-year-old son, Elias. She is interested in emergency medicine and hopes to continue working with urban, underserved communities after she has finished her training.

As a single mother, Chavez said the scholarship will help her repay loans for medical school and to pay for her son’s child care during the day. Her parents, Graciela and George Chavez, frequently care for her son on the weekends that she serves as co-director at one of the free community clinics operated by UC Davis medical students. Even with the support of her parents, Chavez said that financial limitations make it difficult to juggle motherhood and the steep demands of medical school.

The Toombs Scholarship would help alleviate some of the financial burdens by helping with her son's care and allowing Chavez to participate in school events that would develop her skills as a future physician. In addition, Chavez said, the scholarship will help her son have a better quality of life in the future.

After she becomes a physician, Chavez said she plans to provide financial and motivational support to single mothers pursuing graduate degrees in medicine.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its research and primary-care programs. The school offers fully accredited master's degree programs in public health and in informatics, and its combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is training the next generation of physician-scientists to conduct high-impact research and translate discoveries into better clinical care. Along with being a recognized leader in medical research, the school is committed to serving underserved communities and advancing rural health. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine at