Photo of Suzanne Lam
"I really appreciate the school recognizing the hardship that I have gone through, and the support they have shown every step of the way," said third-year medical student Susanne Lam, who was awarded two scholarships for her perseverance and dedication.

Cold, wet and immobilized by a broken back, Susanne Lam spent close to two hours shouting for help after falling off a slope into a creek while snowboarding. After her rescue, the second-year UC Davis medical student learned she faced months of physical therapy and possible neurosurgery.

Lam couldn't walk for long periods of time for the next six months, yet she didn't let her injury get her studies off track. “It was a really hard situation, but I didn't want to fall behind,” she said. Lam worked with School of Medicine staff to study at home. Her fellow students helped considerably, even proctoring exams at her home.

Now back at school and in her third year, Lam is on schedule to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Her tenacity and drive were recognized recently by the UC Davis Health System Leadership Council, who awarded her with a scholarship at their annual “Evening with Medical Students” dinner in Sacramento.

UC Davis medical students Roxanne Aga, Matthew Fentress and Onkar Singh Judge also received $3,200 Leadership Council scholarships in recognition of their extraordinary commitment to their education and to medicine.

Leadership Council scholarships are one-year stipends awarded to UC Davis medical students based on their leadership qualities; volunteer and/or community outreach; future medical profession plans; good academic standing; and need for financial assistance. Students from all four years of medical school are invited to apply. The 2006 winners were chosen from 16 applicants. Though only four scholarships are awarded, the remaining 12 each received a $250 stipend.

The UC Davis Leadership Council is a volunteer group of community advocates committed to building awareness of and support for UC Davis Health System throughout the Sacramento region.

Photo of Onkar Singh Judge
"The Leadership Council scholarship enables me to have one less thing to worry about so I can focus on my studies," said second-year medical student Onkar Singh Judge.

"The Leadership Council knows that scholarships are vital to helping students fulfill their dreams of becoming physicians and serving their community," said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of UC Davis Medical School. "The council provides much-appreciated support, encouragement and inspiration for tomorrow's health-care leaders."

The awards help relieve the massive financial burden for medical students, most of whom will graduate with a tuition debt of $100,000 or more.

“The Leadership Council scholarship enables me to have one less thing to worry about so I can focus on my studies,” said second-year student Judge. “It will help to fund my medical education and it feels great knowing that a part of my tuition has been taken care of.”

In addition to the Leadership Council scholarships, Dr. Daniel and Mrs. Virginia Terry, both longtime Leadership Council members, presented third-year medical student Katharine Willoughby with a $10,000 scholarship.

Suzanne Lam also was surprised with the Deans' Scholarship, an annual award given to a UC Davis medical student who has demonstrated exemplary courage and dedication to overcome special circumstances in his or her journey to become a physician. The scholarship is supported by contributions from deans and other leaders of UC Davis Health System.

The scholarships are a welcome financial relief for Lam — and a symbol of support after all she's been through. “It is incredibly touching and humbling to receive such a show of faith from members of the Leadership Council,” she said. “Being in medical school is stressful enough, but having to worry about the money to pay for school — and now my medical bills from my injury — is even more stressful. The generous support of the School of Medicine and the Leadership Council will help me greatly.”

Judge agreed: “It really helps to know that people outside of your family and friends believe in you and have faith in your accomplishments and goals.”