Helping UMMS students by giving back and paying it forward
Alumnus Nathaniel Clark supports medical education with endowed scholarship and planned gift
Philanthropy is invariably attributed to one of two motivations: giving back or paying it forward. When alumnus Nathaniel G. Clark, MD’88, recently established an endowed scholarship at UMass Medical School, his gift fulfills both.
“The major motivator for me to establish this scholarship was that when I went to UMass Medical School, I felt fortunate that I had good scholarship aid,” he said. “And I believe that one should give back for the good fortune they’ve had.
“I realized that at this point in my career, it was financially possible for me to do so, and decided that an endowed scholarship was a good opportunity for giving back,” he continued.
After earning his medical degree in 1988, Dr. Clark completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics, followed by a fellowship in endocrinology, all at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Today, he specializes in endocrinology as part of the Beth Israel Deaconess Specialty Group, seeing patients with diabetes and thyroid problems in Plymouth and Sandwich.
As for paying it forward, Dr. Clark’s gift does this in various ways. First, of course, is what it makes possible for the next generation of physicians attending UMMS.
“I was delighted to attend the annual Scholarship Dinner in fall 2017 and meet the young woman who’s the first recipient of the scholarship I established,” he said. “I learned about her background and goals, and found that we have a lot in common. It’s great when you have the good fortune to meet your awardee.”
Notably, the first scholarship from Dr. Clark’s endowment wasn’t scheduled to be awarded until 2018, in order to give the funds time to earn interest so the principal remains intact.
“But I was anxious to get it started, so I donated some additional monies to cover the award right away,” he explained.
Dr. Clark, himself, had a wonderful experience with a benefactor who helped him get through prep school before college.
“I got to correspond with the man who set up the scholarship; he listened to what I was doing and gave me advice along the way,” Dr. Clark recalled. “As a graduation present, he even bought me a three-piece suit.
“I wanted to recreate that to some degree, so I set up my scholarship to have the opportunity to get to know the student,” he said, noting that recipients are awarded an annual scholarship during each of their four years of medical school.
In addition, he has made a provision in his will to continue his support of the scholarship after he dies.
“While I can reap the benefits of establishing this scholarship now, while I’m alive and kicking, it also feels good knowing that when I’m gone I can continue to support students,” he said.
Clark, who sees his gift as a meaningful and valuable way to remain involved with his alma mater, believes that UMass Medical School gave him an unparalleled foundation for his career as a doctor.
“Going to UMass was a great experience because it was—and still is—a relatively young medical school, and the faculty were excited to make it the best it could be,” he said. “They were—and are—open to new ideas, dedicated to listening and making the experience as meaningful as possible. It really set me on the road for how to be a doctor.”
He also hopes that by sharing his story, it will help motivate other alumni to support medical education at UMass Medical School.
“I think there’s a misconception that because it’s a state school, taxpayers foot the bill,” Dr. Clark said. “In fact, the Medical School relies very much on benefactors who set up scholarships. The scholarship program only thrives when people are willing to donate, and if graduates weren’t willing to do so, it would put this program in peril.
“It’s so very important for graduates to see that earning a medical degree isn’t just a four-year experience,” he added. “It lasts for a lifetime, and we need to do our best to continue to be a resource for the Medical School so it endures.”
Celebrating support for scholarships (2017 Scholarship Dinner)