Miller Sows Spirit of Philanthropy through PA Award
Joel B. Miller, MD ’74, was “shocked” three years ago to learn that the first Pro Humanitate Award presented to a graduating PA student was being made in his name.
“I had no idea they would do such a thing, but I was deeply honored,” says Miller, a retired Ob-Gyn from Hickory, N.C., who has taught part time at the PA Program’s Boone, N.C., campus and in the Ob-Gyn rotation for third-year MD students.
Since then, Miller has made a gift to endow a fund for the award. It provides money that recipients can direct in their name to a charitable cause of their choice within Wake Forest Baptist Health and the School of Medicine. By exemplifying the university’s “for humanity” motto, Miller is serving as a philanthropic mentor for PA students who are inspired to give back.
At May’s virtual PA graduation ceremonies, Terri Robinson, PA-C ’20, was named this year’s recipient of the Joel Miller, MD, Pro Humanitate Award.
“I am humbled and grateful to receive an award like this that reflects Dr. Miller’s years of dedicated service to others,” she says.
Before enrolling in the PA Program, Robinson lived in Central America for 15 years. She worked with an international mission organization in Costa Rica and Nicaragua while raising four children with her husband. She hosted short-term medical teams and served as an interpreter for various medical providers.
“That helped me recognize that a health care career would incorporate three things that I enjoyed—science, teaching and service,” she says. When she and her family moved back to the U.S. in 2014, she set out to become a PA.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to become a Deacon and learn at Wake Forest,” Robinson says. “My classmates have inspired me with their energy and kindness. The faculty and staff set the standard high for excellence in the classroom and in the clinical arena. My preceptors modeled thorough, thoughtful care, continued learning and pursuit of the most accurate information to provide the best care for their patients.”
Robinson directed her donation to help Spanish-speaking families whose children receive pediatric cardiology care at Brenner Children’s. Her experience as a student working with the pediatric cardiology team and Allison Welch, PA-C, who Robinson describes as “an amazing, knowledgeable, caring PA,” inspired her choice.
“It’s not a huge amount of money but enough to hopefully make a difference for a worthy cause,” Miller says. “I am certainly honored to have people like Terri, who is sincerely motivated to help others, receive this award.”
Sandra Poehling, wife of Gary Poehling, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Wake Forest Baptist, died May 31 at her home in Winston-Salem following treatment for metastatic breast cancer. She was 77.
The Poehlings met as students at Marquette University and were married for 54 years. Friends and family remember Sandra for her grace and hospitality and for her devotion to her community. Her fundraising efforts included leading charitable events that supported Brenner Children’s, Garden Club Council, March of Dimes, Wake Forest Baptist’s Medical Center Guild, UNC School of the Arts, Piedmont Opera, Reynolda Gardens, Senior Services and the Winston-Salem Symphony.
In addition to her husband, survivors include her 100-year-old mother, Pauline Kidd; four daughters: Kathy Poehling, MD ’95, MPH, and husband Tim Peters, MD; Ursula Poehling Whalen, MD ’00, and husband Patrick Whalen, MD ’00; Eva Marie Restel and husband Todd Restel; and Lizanne Poehling and partner Carol Hayes; and 10 grandchildren. Kathy Poehling, Peters and the Whalens are Wake Forest School of Medicine faculty members.
Memorial gifts can be made to the Gary and Sandy Poehling Chair of Orthopaedics Fund or the Sandy and Kathy Poehling Chair for Child Health Fund both at Wake Forest Baptist Health, Philanthropy and Alumni Relations, PO Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.
Roy E. Truslow, MD ’45, the first alumnus of the School of Medicine to fund an endowed scholarship at the school, died Feb. 23 in Greensboro, N.C., at age 98.
Truslow graduated from Wake Forest College in 1942 and enrolled at what was then the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. As a medical student, he met Caroline Gray, a secretary in pediatrics. The couple married in 1946 and remained together until her death in 2000.
After serving in the U.S. Army and achieving the rank of captain, Truslow completed medical training and went on to become the first radiologist in Rockingham County, N.C. He led radiology departments at the county’s two hospitals and retired in 1988 after 36 years.
In addition to setting up the first endowed scholarship for Wake Forest medical students, the Truslows also funded scholarships at Rockingham Community College, the East Carolina University School of Medicine, Agnes Scott College and Salem Academy.
An endowed fund has been established to help ensure greater diversity within the School of Medicine’s graduate medical education programs.
Gifts from numerous donors have established the Charlie L. Kennedy, MD-Lawrence D. Hopkins, MD Fund for Graduate Medical Education. The fund honors Kennedy, who in 1967 became the first African American to complete his residency at Wake Forest Baptist, and Hopkins, a 1977 graduate of the MD program.
Kennedy spent his career working in pediatrics in Winston-Salem and serving the community. Hopkins was a football star at Wake Forest University who graduated in 1972 before attending medical school. He was assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest Baptist Health before his death Nov. 9, 2020.
The fund will provide scholarship help and mentoring opportunities in support of diversity.
School of Medicine classes looking to make a difference through giving can look to the MD Class of 1958 as a model.
Since 1999, when class members endowed a fund to support student-related projects at the school, members of the class have given more than $748,000 to the fund. For their 60th reunion in 2018, the class decided to broaden the purpose of the endowment to include a scholarship, with Richard Snyder, MD ’58, and Joe Woody, MD ’58, spearheading that effort.
But a dollar figure doesn’t capture the class’ full impact. In 2019-20, income from the endowment supported updates to the Patient Simulation Lab in the school’s Center for Experiential and Applied Learning. The investment of $14,200 provided manikins and pelvic trainers in both female and male versions.
For 2020-21, nine MD students will receive a total of more than $65,000 in scholarship assistance as Class of 1958 Scholars, and in August, two ultrasound systems for the ultrasound lab were scheduled to be purchased for approximately $93,000 using income from the endowment.
“The Class of 1958 and their endowment fund is an incredible example of our alumni supporting all of our MD students,” said Lisa Marshall, chief philanthropy officer and vice president of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations.
The class will continue making an impact into the future. As of March 2020, their endowed fund had a market value in excess of $2.2 million.
One of the first graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program now has a CRNA scholarship endowed in her honor as a graduation gift from her family.
Luci L. New, MSN, CRNA, DNP ’20, celebrated graduation as part of the DNP’s inaugural class on Aug. 22. To mark the occasion, New’s husband, John J. Wassel, MD, and their children, Julian and Ashley, established the scholarship fund in her name. The Luci L. New, DNP, CRNA Scholarship Fund will support registered nurses who enroll in the school’s Nurse Anesthesia Program who have demonstrated financial need.
New is immediate past president of the North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists who served as president in 2018-19. She has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the School of Medicine for 18 years and was named an honorary member of the school’s CRNA Alumni Association in 2017.
Through her estate, Ann Austin Flynt, MT ’64, made sure she would be remembered after her passing for the same qualities she exhibited in life.
The Tennessee native who resided in Winston-Salem for 60 years, died in October 2019. Through her estate, she provided gifts totaling more than $1.16 million to establish the Ann Austin Flynt Endowed Fund, which will provide unrestricted support for the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
In addition to her medical technology degree, Flynt was a graduate of both Salem College and what was then known as Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management. Friends acknowledged her generous spirit and philanthropic outreach, which supported a number of nonprofit missions-based, educational and medical causes around the world.
Waldemar Debinski, MD, PhD, was honored as the inaugural Tom and Laura Hearn Professor for the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence during an event at Old Town Club.
Debinski is director of the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence and leader of the Neuro-oncology Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
As one of a select few neuro-oncology researchers in the world, he has focused his work over the last 25 years on brain tumor research. His discoveries have led to numerous translational applications such as drug conjugates, tumor vaccines and T-cell immunotherapy. He also serves as an outstanding mentor and role model for junior faculty and a spiritual inspiration to many seasoned professors.
The professorship honors the philanthropy, vision and leadership of former Wake Forest University President Thomas K. Hearn Jr., PhD, and his wife, Laura Hearn. He was treated for a brain tumor at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and died in 2008 from complications of the disease.
Before and since his death, the Hearns rallied friends, family and the community to support the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, and the professorship is in recognition of their work.