Memorial University awarded its first doctor of medicine degrees in 1973.
Recently, 16 members of that original class of 24, many of whom are still actively practising physicians, gathered together to celebrate their class’s 50th anniversary and to give back to their alma mater.
“Medical education is an intense time in people’s lives, with close friendships being created that last a lifetime,” said Dr. Dolores McKeen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, herself a graduate of the Class of ’92. “The strong bond of this group of alumni has been very evident to me over the past couple of days as I have spent time with them. They are like family.
“As our first graduating class, you are Newfoundland and Labrador’s medical pioneers,” Dr. McKeen added. “In fact, in some cases, you were there when our curriculum was still being written. You helped pave the way for many future doctors.”
During the Reunion 2023 celebrations, which included alumni from classes throughout the decades, the Class of ’73 was announced the creation of a 50th-anniversary commemorative bursary in recognition of the milestone.
Established through generous donations from graduates of the class, their friends and family members, the bursary will be awarded to a first-year learner who is entering the Doctor of Medicine Program.
“This reunion has been a wonderful and very special opportunity for us to renew our friendships and to trade experiences of our careers and lives over the past 50 years,” said Dr. Diane (Banikhin) Dahlman, a member of the class.
“There was a lot of discussion as to how best we could express our thanks to the school that meant so much to our own personal career development. We chose a bursary because we all know and recognize the costs and financial sacrifices associated with completing a medical education today.”
‘Throwing down the gauntlet’
Originally, the class had set a target of $50,000 to endow the bursary.
“The target was perhaps a little brazen, remembering that there are now only 21 of us remaining,” said Dr. Dahlman. “But not long before we came to this event, I received a call with the great news that we had raised $63,000 in cash and pledges. Now we are throwing down the gauntlet to the classes behind us! Can you match or beat that?”
The first bursary is expected to be awarded in the 2023-24 academic year.
“The importance of having a bursary established to help someone in financial need cannot be overstated,” said Dr. McKeen. “I, myself, was the recipient of such an award. Without it, I may not have been here today. I encourage you to help, whether individually or collectively, members of historically excluded or disadvantaged groups who may not see themselves as physicians, let alone even conceptualize a pathway to become a physician.”
The generosity of Memorial University donors creates incredible opportunities for student success and 100 per cent of every donation goes to the chosen award or intended area of support.