It was a powerful scene as the first two Edwards Scholars stood before the crowd of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine faculty and alumni to present white coats to the foundation that had made their pathway to medicine clear. The Joan C. Edwards Charitable Foundation (JCECF) was honored at the 2017 Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Dean’s Soiree. On a night full of celebrating the achievements of the SOM’s most talented alumni, Dean Pamela Davis presented Tom McDonald, JCECF trustee member, and Brian McDonald, JCECF executive director, the distinguished symbol of a white coat.
“In 2009, when I was hired to activate Mrs. Edwards’ mission, all the foundation had to go on was a single sentence – ‘Provide medical education to communities in need of physicians.’” Brian McDonald began to explain the evolution of the foundation’s involvement with its key partnerships and the steps taken to address the lack of doctors being produced from the surrounding public schools. The JCECF awards one graduate from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District a comprehensive 8-year scholarship to both CWRU undergraduate school and the CWRU School of Medicine. With the first two Edwards Scholars to enter CWRU SOM standing behind him, McDonald powerfully addressed the audience, “It is incumbent upon us, the foundation, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Case Western Reserve University and all of us here tonight to do whatever we can to keep challenging our old methods, putting at risk our current notions, and clearing a way for these young people to become physicians.”