Going to medical school was a dream for Eric Arevalo. But he wasn’t going to realize that dream unless he got a scholarship.

“I had $100,000 in [undergraduate] student loans when I was applying to medical school,” he explained to the dozens of donors to the Keck School of Medicine of USC who were recently feted at the Keck School’s annual scholarship luncheon.

When he heard from the Keck School that he was being awarded the Latino Leadership scholarship, Arevalo said he was shocked and thrilled and wanted to express his thanks to the people who make medical school a possibility for dozens of students every year.

Carmen A. Puliafito, MD, MBA, dean of the Keck School of Medicine, explained that, in spite of the Keck School’s top academic reputation, scholarships are an ongoing part of recruiting the best students to the Keck School.

Puliafito added that the funds have been used to create some unique programs to help students not just finish medical school, but also to prepare them for their careers. For example, the Keck School has a fellowship program that allows medical students interested in academic medicine to participate in a year of research. The school also offers financial assistance to medical students who also pursue a master’s degree in public health.

Henri Ford, MD, vice dean for medical education, reminded donors that their contributions not only benefit individual students, but that giving to scholarships for medical students is an investment in the community. He noted that many Keck School graduates stay in academic medicine and remain in practice in Southern California.

“There is no greater mission than to create future generations of academic doctors,” said Ford.

— By Hope Hamashige