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Meds class pools funds to create memorial award

September 7, 2012

Meds class pools funds to create memorial award
Medical students turn a tragedy into a lasting legacy, when they establish an award to honour a friend and colleague.

In September 2006, when David Smithson, MD’09, and his classmates returned for their second year of medical school at Western, they knew life would be different.

Just weeks earlier, their classmate Dinh La, a vibrant and promising doctor-to-be, was tragically killed in an accident.

“We lost a member of our family and that was tough for each of us in the class,” says David. “The previous year we were in every class together and got to know Dinh well, so to not see her left quite an impact.”

As the class pulled together and celebrated her life at a memorial service, they grew stronger going through a healing process. They continued on with their medical training, but the memory of Dinh was not far from their minds.

“She was such a bright, caring, energetic and encouraging woman, who had an amazing effect on everyone she met,” says David.

When graduation approached in 2009, David and his classmates started asking a key question: what would be a way to use the funds they had raised at various events during their years at Schulich?

They floated the idea of creating an award to remember Dinh, and the Class of 2009 as a whole. By pooling their donations, they established The Meds 2009 Dinh La Memorial Award.

Possible recipients are nominated by their peers, and the fourth-year class council administers the scholarship, which recognizes a graduating medical student who embodies a "vibrant, energetic and cheerful nature” and “contributed to the spirit of the graduating class."

First presented at convocation in 2010, the $1,000 annual award is funded until 2014. The plan, however, is to raise $25,000 from among the members of the 2009 class to fully endow the award and make it self-sustaining.

“As a class, we wanted to leave a legacy that honours Dinh, but also recognizes our medical school class,” adds David. “The award hopefully achieves both goals.”

This article appeared in the 2012 edition of Annual Impact
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