Medical students meet the philanthropists funding their tuition

Just outside the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, a photographer counts down “3..2…1..” and a group of medical students smile on cue. The 10 students have much to smile about thanks to the generosity of the two people in the middle of the photo, Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim.

The average medical school debt balance for a graduating physician in the United States is $190,000. For these students, it will be zero. Their medical education is paid for as recipients of the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation Scholarship.

“Eternally grateful is an understatement,” said first-year medical student Evan Ales. “It’s a burden off my shoulders– allows me to focus on my studies.”

For Megan Laughrey, whose father had a stroke last year, the scholarship will enable her to help out her family financially as soon as she’s out of medical school, instead of having to start paying back loans. “It means a lot to me,” she said.

Students in the running for the scholarship are chosen based on their high GPAs and MCAT scores. Dr. Wertheim then personally handpicks who makes the final cut.

“Will they be able to make great physicians and members of our society, that’s what I’m looking for,” he said.

The Wertheims were on campus Oct. 20 for a lunchtime meeting with the students, to whom they offer support and encouragement.

“Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim continue to inspire not only through their philanthropy,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, “but by giving of themselves.”

Wertheim Scholars by class:

2018: Daniel Lumpuy
2019: Nikita Bodoukhin, Blake Fortes
2020: Robert Schmidt
2021: Michael Aguad, Evan Ales, Logan Garfield, Megan Laughrey, Kaushik Ravipati, Imran Sehgal