A legacy of changed lives

In the fall of 2013, Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., announced a $25-million campaign to build the medical school's scholarship endowment into a resource on par with its peer schools.

Commemorating our founding year, the 1838 Campaign was launched with the announcement of a $1 million gift from the Grandis family. View a .

In their lifetimes, Harry and Harriet Grandis were devoted to supporting our medical students. They took a sincere and personal interest in giving them the best possible start in their careers by making yearly gifts to fully cover the cost of tuition for deserving students. Beginning in the 1990s, their gifts have supported more than a dozen young doctors.

"I will never be able to say 'Thank You' enough to the Grandis family for providing me a scholarship for medical school. Without it, not a single thing in my life today would be the same," says the Class of 1995's Jennie Webb-Wright, who now works in the field of palliative medicine. "This is my special place in medicine. It's the perfect fit. Working with dying patients, and those with long chronic illnesses, is really tough. People in the palliative medicine field will tell you that it's not possible to do it full time for long without burning out. I have prevented burnout by working part time, which of course I couldn't do if I had debts to pay."

After Harry and Harriet Grandis' deaths, their daughters considered how they wanted to continue their legacy and decided to permanently endow a scholarship in their parents' memories. Replacing their parents' yearly gift, the $1-million endowment will be invested by the MCV Foundation and the earnings will be used each year to award a full in-state scholarship so that generations of future students will graduate free of tuition debt.

In testimony to how Mr. and Mrs. Grandis' generous friendship impacted their lives, nearly half the Grandis Scholars returned to the MCV Campus for the announcement of the Grandis family's gift. From coast to coast, and representing a range of specialties including pediatrics, ophthalmology and palliative care, the Scholars tell stories of how the Grandis' gift enabled them to choose fields they were passionate about without the worry of a heavy burden of debt.

The Class of 2008's Harry Wright made the trip from Tampa where he is completing a fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. "The gift of a tuition-free medical school education at an institution like MCV is overwhelming, wonderful, and even still feels too good to be true." He says that gave him the financial confidence to start a family and buy his first home.

"However, these practicalities cannot compare to the experience of receiving such generous gift. The knowledge that the Grandis family chose to invest in me was a huge factor in affecting how I view personal service and professional opportunities. This gift will always serve as profound reminder to make every opportunity count, and to pay it forward to the next generation."