Voices of philanthropy: "Why Iowa?"

BY GUEST COLUMN | APRIL 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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I have been asked this question countless times during interviews the past several years. People wonder why I’ve chosen to stay at Iowa for undergraduate, medical school, residency, and fellowship training when there are so many other places to consider.

Like many reading this letter, I grew up in small-town Iowa. Iowa City was the big city. It was daunting to start my liberal-arts education at a large Big Ten institution. Even more daunting was how to pay for my education. The scholarship support I received as an undergraduate student helped me graduate debt-free, and shortly after, I began medical school at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Throughout medical school, my colleagues and I received financial support from donors across the country who sought to invest not only in us as individuals but also in the concept that we, as medical students, would care for future generations of Iowans.

This selfless investment in the education of and care for others is a significant “why Iowa” reason for me. It is the essence of philanthropy. The scholarship support I received as both an undergraduate and medical student has played a considerable role in my decision to pursue an underserved specialty as a pediatric nephrologist and remain in the state of Iowa. Philanthropic scholarship support during medical school provided me with the financial stability to pursue an opportunity as a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow. Serendipitously, that opportunity catapulted my drive for seeking a better understanding of brain development in pediatric chronic disease and led me to simultaneously pursue a research career in my clinical training.  

“Why Iowa” is simple for me: Our people, our students, and our graduates are selfless. We give back to each other in order to make this state a better place, not only for ourselves but for future generations. Philanthropic support for students, patient care, research, and education is a vital component of my “why Iowa.”

How has Phil played a role in your “why Iowa?”

Lyndsay Harshman, M.D. (2006 B.S., 2011 M.D.) Resident Physician, Pediatrics, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital

Dr. Harshman is a former president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students and a 2011 Hancher-Finkbine Medallion recipient.

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