Morgan Dana Harrington Scholarship Recipients
2020: Neslihan Ari
Through the years and with the encouragement of her parents, Natalia Sutherland began to fully believe that she could be a Hispanic female and a doctor. She set her sights on medical school. Sutherland found out she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in a memorable way.
“I was completely overwhelmed,” she said. “It was the epitome of what I’ve come to know as a welcoming environment here.”
Kevin Mensah-Biney is known among his peers at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as a trivia buff.
“Not really trivia,” he says with a grin, “more like random facts.”
His talent for storing and retrieving information has served him well academically. He earned a degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before entering the medical school in 2014.
Malek Bouzaher goes through life with an open mind and an eagerness to experience the world around him. It’s an attitude he’s had since childhood when his family traveled to places like South Africa and Egypt for his father’s career.
He credits his upbringing for shaping his value system and instilling in him a genuine desire to learn from and about different people and cultures. He also readily acknowledges the influence that these experiences have had on his own character.
“It has definitely contributed to my personality,” he said. “I had to be very outgoing.”
An avid fitness buff, Arulraja struggled with exercise-induced anorexia in high school, a disorder characterized by excessive and compulsive exercise.
Now recovered, she credits the doctors who treated her illness for leading her on the path to becoming a doctor herself.
“Without those amazing physicians and the support of my wonderful family, who knows, maybe I wouldn’t be here today.” she said. “I don’t know of a better way to repay that care than to pursue a career where I can hopefully do the same for someone else.”
Omar Salman remembers what it was like to struggle to get decent medical care. That memory was one of the factors that pointed him on the path of career in medicine. As the son of two Palestinian refugees, living in Kuwait and later in Jordan, Salman thought going to medical school was outside the realm of possibilities. After all, his family heritage indicated that education was not a reality. In fact, none of his four grandparents could read or write.
From an early age, Alcoreza, the son of an engineer and a businesswoman, gravitated to math and science. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from William & Mary and went on to receive his master’s degree from Boston University.
“Discovering new people and places, learning — that’s what I love,” Alcoreza said. “But before now, I never had much exposure to neurology or neuroscience, and I am really enjoying it. There is so much we do not know about the brain, and I am grateful for the opportunity to further explore brain research.”
The research project of Perisa Ruhi, class of 2018 at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, offers new findings to help change smoking behaviors.
Ruhi found that smokers were more likely to value a future without cigarettes when envisioning future events with smoking-related illness symptoms, such as lung cancer. Her study was conducted under the mentorship of Warren Bickel, director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center (ARRC) at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the school of medicine, and Jeff Stein, research assistant professor at ARRC.
What would Morgan think of all this? “She would be pleased that she made such a lasting contribution,” Daniel Harrington said. “Death doesn’t end one’s opportunity for creating good in the world. Gil and I are adamant about keeping Morgan’s legacy alive, and this scholarship is one way we’ve been able to do that.”
The recipients of the Morgan Dana Harrington scholarship are second-year students Christopher McLaughlin of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Tarangi Sutaria of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Chris McLaughlin loves lawn mowers. And helping people in an emergency.
When this fourth-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine combined the two for his required research project that has spanned the last four years, it was a match made in heaven. McLaughlin had spent many summers in his youth operating a successful lawn mowing business and six years as an EMT and paramedic.
“I knew I would work a lot harder and do a lot more if the focus of my research was something that I was passionate about,” he said. “I found that with this project.”
Alternatively, you can mail a check, made payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation, to
University Advancement, Gift Accounting
University Gateway Center
902 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061
and noting “VTCSOM Morgan Dana Harrington Scholarship Fund” in the memo line.