Published December 1, 2019

A Message from Brian Strom, M.D., M.P.H.

Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

As a generous supporter of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, you help us shape the future of human health, pioneer breakthroughs, and integrate care to keep the world well.

Thanks to donor support, RBHS delivers a future-focused education so graduates can lead at the forefront of health care, conducts collaborative research resulting in life-changing discoveries, and offers high-quality care that improves the health of our communities. Your gifts combine with many others and contribute to Rutgers’ growth and success as a national academic health care leader.

Donor response to the Chancellor’s Challenge over the past year—which has matched up to $1M in gifts to scholarships for the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine and the Rutgers School of Nursing—is inspiring and deeply appreciated.

I am pleased to present the following report, which provides a glimpse of how you and other donors are making an impact on the Rutgers community and beyond. Although this report features only a few of the funds our donors support, we look forward to highlighting donor impact at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers School of Graduate Studies—Biomedical and Health Sciences, and Rutgers School of Public Health in the Spring 2020 edition of this report. I hope you will take pride in knowing you help make a difference at Rutgers.

The School of Health Professions

The Endowed Student Scholarship is awarded to full-time students at the School of Health Professions who demonstrate financial need, academic merit, and outstanding character.

Alexander Olan, a second-year doctor of physical therapy student, says, “As a recipient of the Endowed Student Scholarship, I have not only been supported financially so that I can achieve my academic goals, but also motivated to continue to play an influential role in student involvement within my professional communities. The scholarship has helped me participate in national conferences and service trip initiatives. I have been empowered to be an active member within these communities, and this has greatly contributed to my success.”

The School of Nursing

Donor support to the School of Nursing helps ensure rewarding experiences for students and enables Rutgers to attract well-qualified students of all backgrounds to be part of one of the nation’s largest, most comprehensive nursing schools. Danielle Rota, SON’20 is honored to be a scholarship recipient. “It gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment,” she says. “As a scholarship recipient, I was inspired to push even harder and continue achieving success in my studies. I feel it is important for donors to give back to Rutgers because it helps people like me who might not be able to finish school because of financial issues. A little cushion helps when a student must decide between picking up extra hours at work or studying for an exam.”

During the past year, donors have responded enthusiastically to the Chancellor’s Challenge, which matches scholarship gifts of up to $500,000 to the School of Nursing.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

One day, while taking a break from studying during her first year at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Alejandra Bolanos RWJMS’22 received some unexpected news in an email; the school was awarding her an annual scholarship that would cover her tuition all four years.

“The scholarship was a welcome vote of confidence, and it means the world to me,” says Bolanos. “It means that I can continue to focus all of my time and energy on learning and becoming the best physician I can be without the added pressure of how much student debt I will have upon graduation.” And since she won’t have a large debt to repay, she can pursue a specialty she is passionate about, such as family medicine, rather than having to choose a higher paying area of the profession. “It’s a giant weight lifted off my shoulders,” she adds.

The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

During his first two years at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Steven Vassell worked as a landscaper to support his wife and two children, volunteered at a soup kitchen, and served as a deacon of his church. Through it all, he managed to juggle the heavy academic load of dental school.

Growing up poor in Jamaica, Vassell didn’t imagine himself pursuing a medical career. “Being from a family without much money, you might have certain ambitions but realistically, you probably won’t be able to reach them,’’ he says. Thanks to assistance from the Endowed Scholarship Fund, Vassell is on his way to pursuing a career he loves. “Dentistry isn’t just about cleaning teeth,” he says. “It’s about interacting with patients on a personal level.”

During the past year, donors have responded enthusiastically to the Chancellor’s Challenge, which matches scholarship gifts of up to $500,000 to Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care: Vets4Warriors

Vets4Warriors is a unique peer support network that provides sustained one-on-one support to anyone who has ever put on a uniform, as well as to their families and caregivers. Donor support helps strengthen and empower the lives of those who have done so much to strengthen and empower others’ lives and enables the program to hire and train more veterans to serve as peer support specialists.

In April 2019, Vets4Warriors was contacted by an Army veteran who had served a nine-month tour in Afghanistan and was severely injured. As a result of his injuries, the veteran struggled with the high levels of pain, depression, and psychological distress he experienced daily. He had a history of attempted suicide and was eventually medically discharged from the military.

Vets4Warriors connected the veteran with a voluntary treatment program in Indiana. The veteran reports that, because of this program, he has developed a better perspective on his life and is receiving the mental health care he needs. He credits Vets4Warriors for helping save his life.