Legacy Brunch Honors Decades of GW SMHS Families
Hoping to carry on the legacy they established more than 20 years ago as GW School of Medicine and Health Science (SMHS) students, Janet Fromkin, M.D. ’83 and Ronald Stiller, M.D. ’82, have the pleasure of knowing their legacy is safe as their daughter Robin begins her first year as a medical student at SMHS. For Robin, it has always been her plan and dream to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a GW medical student. “I remember the time, I remember the date, I remember where I was when I got the acceptance call from GW,” said Robin. “It was the best day.”
The Stiller family, along with five other legacy families and adopt-a-doc families from 1975–96, gathered for the second annual Medical Legacy Brunch at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. Aug. 18. The legacy brunch was created last year to connect legacy families and adopt-a-doc families and to honor their relationships with the university. The families enjoyed a casual brunch while discussing the important role their families play in helping the SMHS community carry on its history and traditions. There are 28 legacy families with current medical students.
Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. ’81, G.M.E. ’85, interim vice president for health affairs and dean of SMHS, welcomed the alumni and introduced the legacy families. Akman gave a brief overview of how the school has grown and evolved over the past 30 years. He later turned the floor over to the alumni, parents, and students by inviting them to share their favorite memories from medical school.
First to speak about his favorites medical school memories was Russell Libby, M.D. ’79. Libby is also the first adopt-a-doc donor. He helped establish the Adopt-a-Doc program in 2011, in honor of his late mother, Leona Libby Feldman. The program provides SMHS alumni the opportunity to support a current GW medical student by pledging scholarship support for each of their four years of medical school. For Libby, it was important to give back to the institution that made him the physician he is today. “I wanted to do something that would have a direct impact on students who were in the process of becoming physicians, as well as alleviate some of the financial burden they face,” said Libby. Allison Hoff, a rising second-year medical student, is Libby’s adopt-a-doc scholar. “I am truly grateful for the guidance and support that Dr. Libby has given me over the past year,” said Hoff. Coming from California, Libby helped Hoff transition into life as a first-year medical student. Hoff even spent last Thanksgiving with the Libby family because she couldn’t make it back home.
Sandra Caskie, M.D. ’82, and Julian Safran, M.D. ’75, another adopt-a-doc family, reminisced about the past and how difficult it was to balance school and raising a family. The event was particularly meaningful for Caskie and Safran because it was the first time they got to meet their adopt-a-doc scholar, Jiyong Lee, a rising second-year medical student. “I’m extremely grateful for Sandra and Julian’s support, which is helping me pursue my goal of becoming a doctor,” said Lee. Caskie and Safran look forward to getting to know Lee and offering him their support and guidance throughout his medical career.
Janet and Ronald Stiller, who met at GW medical school and later married, were still beaming over their daughter Robin’s acceptance. “GW opened so many doors for me and my husband,” said Janet. Having begun both their professional careers and personal relationship at GW, it’s particularly reassuring for them to know that their daughter will have similar opportunities like the ones they enjoyed more than 20 years ago. “I’m so proud to have another GW doctor in the family,” said Ronald.