BCMSMedicalRecordSpring2017 - 28

BcMS n e w S & e v e n t S
the Foundation oF the Pennsylvania medical society

Medical School Scholarships Honor, Inspire


he Foundation of the Pennsylvania
Medical Society Executive Director
Heather Wilson, CFRE, says, "We are
inspired every day by our scholarship winners
and the success they find in this profession
that ultimately helps humankind. Throughout
2017, we will be featuring their stories and
their advice to current medical students on
our website. We could not have initiated these
kinds of program without visionary donors
like Elena Pascal and Carla Vigilante. They
established the $1,000 Myrtle Siegfried, MD,
and Michael Vigilante, MD, Scholarship
through the Foundation to help students in
their local community."
Sisters Carla and Elena decided to create a
lasting tribute in honor of their parents who
were physicians in Allentown. "Working with
staff at the Foundation, we established the
scholarship in their memory. We accomplished
two goals by creating a lasting remembrance
of our parents and their achievements, and
returning something to the profession our
parents loved," says Elena.
Elena says her parents were a dynamic duo
who practiced medicine together in the Lehigh Valley. Her mother
was a general practitioner raised on a farm in Stony Run, graduating
youngest in her class from The George Washington University
School of Medicine. Her father was an obstetrician-gynecologist
from New York, graduating from Marquette School of Medicine.
Though her parents' families were of little means, they sought better
lives for their children.
The latest winner, Lucas T. Wittman, of Macungie, attends
Harvard Medical School in Boston. He said that his appreciation
for education and desire to practice medicine in underserved
communities has stemmed from his own humble upbringing as the
youngest in his small-town household of seven. He says, "Motivated
in part by my own socioeconomic background, I dedicated a
significant portion of my undergraduate years seeking to better
understand some of the implications involved at the interface of
society, neuroscience, and health by leading research projects on
poverty and pediatric brain development at the Children's Hospital
of Philadelphia."

Elena says that for more than 50 years,
her parents shared offices on the first floor
of the family home practicing the "art of
medicine," seeking to contribute in a positive
way to the development of patients and their
families. Their patients were their friends,
and medicine became an integral part of
daily life. Telephones were constantly ringing
and their two waiting rooms were "standing
room only." They took their time - focusing
on each patient as if he or she were part of
the family. Elena's husband, Joseph Pascal,
MD, fondly recalls his first meeting with
his future mother-in-law. "She was cradling
a phone in one hand giving insulin orders,
while stirring the batter for a cake in the
other." At a time when women were a rarity
in medicine, Dr. Siegfried was a pioneer.
Elena says, "Our father was a storyteller.
His flamboyant, outgoing personality,
coupled with his colorful tales of his life in
the melting pot of New York's Lower East
Side, amused his patients and colleagues.
He never seemed to need sleep, spending
hours on end in the hospital or his office. He
welcomed thousands of babies into the world, and cared for many
patients by serenading them with his rendition of 'Santa Lucia.'"
Today's high cost of a medical education can sometimes prevent
someone from attaining the dream of becoming a doctor. The
average, annual medical school tuition and fees has risen from
$16,301 in 1990 to $46,963 in 2016. Coupled with the scarcity of
low-cost sources of funding, obtaining a medical education becomes
increasingly difficult.
Through this endowment, there is hope for medical students
to achieve their dream. "My husband and I are charitably inclined
so when we reviewed our estate plan, we chose to give a planned
gift to the Foundation. After our deaths, these assets will be used
to continue this scholarship fund. My sons understand that this
endowment is important to us, and we have encouraged them to
also contribute so the fund will continue to grow, helping more
students," says Elena.

The Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of Pennsylvania Medical Society, sustains the future of medicine in Pennsylvania
by providing programs that support medical education, physician health, and excellence in practice. It has been helping
finance physician education for more than 60 years.
Check out www.foundationpamedsoc.org and click on "Where are they Now" under Student Financial Services to read
about scholarship winners. Want to create a named scholarship? Call the Philanthropy Department at (717) 558-7846.



http://www.foundationpamedsoc.org http://berkscms.org/

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