It’s hard to believe but it has been more than five years since we graduated from SIU. I have heard from many of our classmates over the years and am so happy so many of you are doing such great things.
As you may be aware, this year marks 50 years of SIU School of Medicine. Our alumni network now includes more than 3,000 physicians all across the United States, many of whom are practicing in mission critical areas.
I write to you, however, with some sobering statistics and to ask for your help. Most SIU students are now graduating with more than $200,000 in debt. Last year the alumni association was able to award 51 scholarships totaling $159,230. While this is a great start, the total amount is less than one student’s debt, and those 51 students make up fewer than 20% of the student body. Of our network of 3,000 graduates, fewer than 20% give in any amount to the Foundation.
Donations to SIU School of Medicine funds not only scholarships, but also much needed curriculum materials, the membership at the YMCA and more. A new YMCA will be opening later this year one block away from Memorial Medical Center. I remember how much this membership meant to me as a student and, as a member of the Board of Governors, I know how important the students feel it is to their wellness.
I recognize that many of us continue to pay down our own debt and will for the foreseeable future. What I ask, however, is for you to consider even just a small donation (might I suggest $20.14) to the Student Resource Fund or one of the scholarship accounts. March 4, 2020 is SIU’s Day of Giving, and the 50th anniversary is the perfect time to give back. Last year only 6% of our class gave any amount back to the place that we have to thank for our medical careers. I would love to see this at 100%. At that threshold, giving just $20.14 we would raise more than $1,500 for a student.
I appreciate your consideration and would be happy to answer any questions.
Rik Austin MD
Chair, Class of 2014
Vice President, SIU School of Medicine Board of Governors