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Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship

Initiated in 2010 with a gift from pediatrician Russell Libby, MD '79, the Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship program provides alumni and friends the opportunity to support a current GW medical student throughout the student’s four years of medical school. Adopt-a-Doc enables tangible connections and facilitates lasting relationships that are important to future physicians, especially as they begin their journeys.

With a minimum commitment of $20,000 to be gifted over four years in equal installments of at least $5,000, an Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship will support one student throughout that student’s four years of medical school. The Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship thus allows the donor to “adopt” a future physician at the start of their medical career.

A Reunion Gift in Loving Memory

Brenna Clougherty, MD ’08, who served as chief resident of pediatrics at Children’s National Health System (Children’s National), was a devoted physician who touched dozens of lives. Many of those who knew her best felt compelled to find the perfect way to honor her after she died from cancer in March 2018, just six months before her 10th George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) reunion.

Members of the SMHS MD Class of 2008 realized that raising money for an Adopt-a-Doc scholarship would be the perfect way to memorialize Clougherty’s giving spirit and passion for education. The class, along with Clougherty’s family, friends, and resident cohort, raised more than $30,000 for a four-year scholarship. MD student Elizabeth Ghandakly, class of 2022, is the recipient of this scholarship.

Elizabeth Ghandakly
MD student Elizabeth Ghandakly, recipient of the Brenna K. Clougherty, MD '08, Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship.

Seeing Eye to Eye

Is there such a thing as a self-made man or woman? Thomas E. Flynn, MD ’86, doesn’t think so. Rather, he believes each successful person has had some help along the way. For him, that helping hand was GW Trustee Emeritus Sheldon Cohen, AA ’48, BA ’50, JD ’52. Originally wait-listed at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Tom credits the former GW Board of Trustees chairman with helping him get an interview which ultimately secured his acceptance. “Sheldon Cohen believed in me,” Tom says, “and I will never forget that August Sunday when the phone rang. I got the spot of someone who dropped out the day before classes started…I thought I was dreaming.”

Tom’s dream of attending GW came true that day, and now, more than 30 years later, he and his wife, Susan Scherbel, are giving back to ensure future generations have the same opportunity. The couple has pledged $100,000 to establish the Flynn Family Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship Fund, which will support five students for the duration of their medical education at GW.

Sheldon Cohen and Tom Flynn (center) with all five Flynn scholarship recipients

Sheldon Cohen, AA ’48, BA ’50, JD ’52 (left) and Tom Flynn, MD ’86 (center) with all five Flynn scholarship recipients (L to R): Christopher Leyton, Danielle Canter, Nicole Doria, Katerina Yale, and Merrick Tan.


These scholarships are more than just an opportunity to help SMHS students as they begin their own journeys; this is an opportunity to recognize the impact Sheldon had on us. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help, and it was important to us for Sheldon to be there as we begin to pay it forward.”
-Thomas E. Flynn, MD ’86

Honoring a Friend

Sandra Caskie, MD '82, has practiced obstetrics and gynecology in the greater Washington metropolitan area since 1986. For years, she had wanted to make some sort of gift to GW that would honor the memory of her classmate, Dr. Henrietta Leonard, who passed away in 2007.  Dr. Leonard was a psychiatrist in Rhode Island, and the two medical school classmates had remained close since their time at GW.   Upon learning about the Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship program, Dr. Caskie knew it would be just the type of scholarship her classmate would most appreciate.  "Henri was a dear friend during our medical school years. I know she would have shared with me the belief that medical school should be possible for anyone willing to put in the hard work and dedication necessary. I am sure that a scholarship like this in her memory would have really pleased her." 

The beneficiary of Dr. Caskie’s gift is Jiyong Lee, SMHS ’15, from Daegu, South Korea. As an international student, this was the first scholarship aid he received since beginning his education in the U.S.

Jiyong Lee and his wife Ji-Min Hong (right) at the SMHS Legacy Brunch with Sandra Caskie, MD'82 (third from left), her husband Julian Safran, MD'75, and son Jeremy Safran, SMHS'17, along with SMHS Dean Jeffrey Akman (center).


The Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship not only helps to alleviate my tuition burden, it also showed me how physicians like Dr. Caskie are creating a community by supporting students like me. I am grateful not only for the financial support that the Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship provides, but also for the friendship, mentorship, and guidance I’ve received through my relationship with Dr. Caskie and her entire family.
-Jiyong Lee, SMHS’15

A Class-Wide Effort

At their 25th reunion in 2012, members of the SMHS Class of '87 reflected on how remarkable their class was and how much their classmates have achieved since they graduated 25 years ago. They also talked about their gratitude to GW for enabling this success. So they decided there would be no better way to honor the university and support the next generation of GW-trained physicians than by coming together as a group to fund an Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship.

Led in their efforts by two members of their class – Dr. Scott Flamm, a radiologist in Cleveland, OH, and Dr. Karen Prowda, a child psychiatrist in Vestal, NY – members of the class pooled their gifts to fund the first Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship named after a GW medical class.

Members of the MD Class of 1987 at their 25th Reunion in 2012. Pictured (top row, l-r): Scott Flamm, Fardad Esmailian, Ann Beeder, Thomas Barnett, and Fred Schlesinger; (seated, l-r): Jackie Arnold, Denise DeConcini, Karen Prowda, Sheila Sontag, and Maria Sullivan.


Think about how great it would be to have a medical student know that he or she will be able to graduate with a little less debt and to start a great medical career with a little less of a financial burden because of the support of a group of alumni who went through the same experiences 25 years earlier. Through the Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship program, we can immediately benefit a student — our Class of 1987 Scholar — throughout that student's four years at GW.
-Scott Flamm, SMHS MD '87 and Karen Prowda, SMHS MD '87, who spearheaded the effort to fund the Class of 1987 Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship. 

How to "Adopt-a-Doc" and Make an Impact

The Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship is a unique opportunity to make a gift to support a current GW medical student while recognizing and honoring someone close to the donor. For the duration of the four years, the Scholarship can bear the donor’s name, or it may honor a loved one, colleague, or mentor.

Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship recipients are selected by the School of Medicine and Health Sciences scholarship subcommittee. The Development and Alumni Relations Office will proudly facilitate introductions between donors and student scholars. There are a number of opportunities for Adopt-a-Doc scholars and donors to meet, including the Power & Promise Scholarship Dinner.

To learn more about how to “Adopt-a-Doc,” please call the Development and Alumni Relations office at 202-994-7511.