Development and Community Relations News

Lauren Kuta

Top Secret clearance. Routing CIA messages. Cryptographic equipment. It all sounds like something out of the next Mission Impossible movie, but it’s not. It is straight out of the life of Lauren Kuta, College of Pharmacy student.

Lauren tried college for awhile, but found she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do so joined the United States Navy. Then 9/11 happened. Lauren’s endurance in extreme conditions and her threshold for pressure were tested.  During Iraqi Freedom she operated equipment for video teleconferences between top commanders, coded and routed messages, and volunteered for a security task force to guard the Bahrain base where she was stationed.  Lauren received three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a Good Conduct Medal.

Her strength, compassion, and drive lead her to look for a new challenge upon her discharge from the Navy. Lauren found that new challenge at Northern Illinois University where she discovered her passion for scientific inquiry. Lauren wanted a challenge so she majored in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry.  She was a member of the Phi Sigma Biology Honor Society, the American Chemical Society and was active in the Northern Illinois Student Association. Additionally, Lauren volunteered with Relay for Life and received the People’s Choice Award for Undergraduate Research and the 2009 Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry. After working as an undergraduate researcher on a project synthesizing a drug delivery agent, Lauren knew she wanted to continue her studies in pharmacology.

When Lauren came to the College of Pharmacy at Rosalind Franklin University she was not expecting a scholarship, since she wasn’t even sure scholarships were available at a brand new college. After being accepted, she received a phone call, “The scholarship was unexpected. It felt like Christmas morning. It is truly a gift.” Lauren felt like the scholarship validated the hard work she had done before enrolling in the College of Pharmacy and notes that the scholarship will encourage and allow  her to work harder. The scholarship to the College of Pharmacy helped to position her for success, and she wants to make sure the College is proud of their choice.

For Lauren the scholarship  helped to create an immediate connection with the College of Pharmacy and it reinforces her desire to give back after her graduation. “People are helping to start something new, they’re directing the future, they’re molding the future.”

Ansgar Olsen

Diabetes affects 246 million people worldwide, including 23.6 million in the United States alone. Zebrafish, a small guppy-like fish from southeast Asia, can regenerate nearly all its body parts. While these two facts may seem unconnected, research being done at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science by faculty and students may lead to groundbreaking discoveries. In type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not produce insulin, which is necessary to break down certain foods. Because of the zebrafish’s ability to regenerate its body parts, watching whether or not the zebrafish could repair its pancreas in a diabetic state could provide breakthroughs for humans.

Ansgar Olsen matriculated in 2004 and is now in his third year at Scholl College. “Scholl had the strongest research credentials [of the Podiatric schools]. It was the strongest place to pursue my passion.” Shortly after enrolling he was called up by the Army Reserve to serve his county in Iraq. He was called twice to active duty, once for Operation Enduring Freedom and once for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ansgar received numerous commendations and metals for his service.

Upon his return from the Army he decided not only did he want to pursue his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, but he also wanted a PhD in Cell Biology and Anatomy at the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Ansgar completed his first two years at Scholl and then entered the PhD program under Dr. Robert Intine.  Now, back at Scholl College, Ansgar is eager to complete his work on his DPM.

Ansgar feels that he has been encouraged to pursue his academic interests at Rosalind Franklin University. He has been able to strike a balance between his studies and research, something he hopes to continue after graduation. Ansgar hopes to be able to strike a balance between clinical work, research and teaching.

 Ansgar Olsen is a prime example of someone who wants to further the advancements of podiatric medicine. His scholarship has allowed him to pursue these interests. “A scholarship can change how a student feels, motivate them to work harder, allow them to focus fully on their studies and gives them the freedom to pursue other academic advances,” says Ansgar.

Charmi Shah

Neither the study nor the practice of medicine are solitary endeavors. Charmi Shah has known from day one that she will be part of a medical team that works together to care for its patients. With the goal of providing superior healthcare and becoming an outstanding doctor, the interprofessional model offered at Rosalind Franklin University’s Chicago Medical School was the right choice.

Charmi’s experiences, not only working in various medical centers and hospitals, but also her academic and extracurricular experiences taught her the importance of teamwork and cooperation for success. Charmi has seen teams in action when she volunteered in an Intensive Care Unit and a pediatric department. She tutored during college and was president of Women in Science and Engineering. After college, Charmi spent two years working on research both at Northwestern University and Baxter. She reflects, “Interprofessionalism is how the real world works. Rosalind Franklin University prepares students to work in teams.”

Charmi was awarded the Clara Rosenstein Kraff Scholarship following her decision to come to the Chicago Medical School and she is extremely thankful. The scholarship gives her the motivation to push herself and constantly strive to do better. Charmi also looks to the future knowing that with this scholarship she will have to take out fewer loans making it easier to balance her financial obligations, a new career and having a family.

Supporting the Next Century

Planned gifts, such as bequests, living trusts, or life insurance, can have a lasting impact on Rosalind Franklin University’s future. As we enter our Centennial Celebration and our Centennial Scholarship Campaign -Supporting the Next Century- alumni can play an important role in this campaign by remembering their alma mater and restricting their gift to scholarship support. Scholarships transform the student experience and lend critical support to our mission to invest in the future of the education of tomorrow’s health care leaders.

Dr. George W. Morningstar

On July 7, 2011, the University announced the naming of the William J. and Elizabeth L. Morningstar Interprofessional Education Center. This naming was in recognition of a $4.4 million estate gift from George W. Morningstar, MD ’56. Dr. Morningstar wished to honor his parents for the support they gave him throughout his medical education.

Dr. Morningstar practiced family medicine for over 40 years on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. According to his colleagues, he treated his patients with kindness and care, often charging only what they could afford. One of the hallmarks of our University is the excellent training of the healthcare professionals who work diligently throughout our nation with quiet humility. Dr. Morningstar embodied this character.

Dr. Amol Saxena

Amol Saxena, DPM ’88 came to the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine because of the excellent faculty and the ability to get critical hands on training.

Dr. Saxena has gone on to become a very successful podiatrist, specializing in Sports Medicine and Foot & Ankle surgery. He has treated world-class athletes including dozens of Olympians, world record holders and other professional athletes. In addition he has pioneered several surgical techniques and is an internationally recognized surgeon.

“I know times may seem tough, but this is a profession that allows you to care for people, and by giving back you will allow more to do so,” says Dr. Saxena.

Dr. Saxena and his family give back to their alma maters because they are grateful for the teachers, training and scholarships that have helped shape their lives. They decided a bequest was one option that was right for them. It allows them to plan for the future while still having flexibility with their finances today.

“I think any time you are able to make a good living, you should try to share and help others so eventually they can ‘pay it forward’,’’ states Dr. Saxena.

Planning for the Next Century

Support like Dr. Morningstar and Dr. Saxena’s gifts are critical to the success of our future. Through planned gifts we can raise additional funds for scholarships, which helps your alma mater remain competitive with peer institutions, attract and retain the highest caliber of students, and maintain a diverse student body. Consider joining us today with your support through a planned gift.

Inspiring Students in Our Local Communities

As Latino youth pursue higher education opportunities, they face several challenges, including financial cost and the lack of role models. The University hopes to address some of these challenges by piloting the Impart New Scholastic Potential and Illuminate Rosalind Franklin Education (INSPIRE) Summer Research Program.

The INSPIRE program provides high school students from underrepresented populations the opportunity to engage in hands-on biomedical original research with faculty and graduate student mentors where they learn laboratory techniques, bioethics, experimental design, data entry and analysis. Students also receive guidance with the development of personal and professional goals through weekly meetings with their graduate student mentors.

Four underrepresented minority students from Waukegan High School and St. Martin de Porres High School, also in Waukegan, Illinois, were selected as candidates for INSPIRE based on their academic potential, progress and passion for the health professions.

“Not only do we want to teach them to think like scientists, but we also want to be a part of their extended academic family, offering the support they need to succeed now and in the future,” said Hector Rasgado-Flores, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and INSPIRE program director.

The program paired the high school students with University graduate students, faculty and staff who facilitated access to research opportunities, lab experiences and safety protocol education in the healthcare field. Thanks to a grant from the Roy G. Kerr Family Foundation, the University was able to offer the high school students a stipend and gave support for supplies to each of the laboratories.

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