UC professor’s donation benefits students from developing nations studying public health
CINCINNATI – June 24, 2014 – A volunteer professor at the University of Cincinnati, James T. O’Reilly, has given $100,000 to UC’s College of Medicine to create a scholarship fund for international students pursuing their master’s in public health.
The James O’Reilly International Student Scholarship Fund for the Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree (The O’Reilly Fund) benefits students from developing nations who plan to return to their home country to improve its public health.
“International students face much higher costs than in-state students and often are unable to work to support themselves because of visa restrictions,” said Dr. William “Bill” Mase, UC’s outgoing MPH program director. “This particular gift will benefit these students and allow them to study without being unduly concerned about how to pay tuition.”
“The idea is for students to bloom where they are planted,” said O’Reilly. “If we nourish educational opportunities for people in Third World nations, and they in turn excel in these countries, their countries become stronger.”
The fund’s first scholarship was awarded to Maria Nakafeero, a student from Kabingo – a small, impoverished village in western Uganda. Her interest in public health was fueled by the loss of four of her 13 siblings, who all succumbed to preventable health conditions. Nakafeero’s story resonated with O’Reilly, who taught the Public Health Policy and Systems course in which Nakafeero was enrolled. Her story inspired him so much that he personally invested in UC so that Nakafeero could remain in the program.
“With students you hope you’ll eventually inspire some and teach all,” said O’Reilly. “Maria has a remarkably bright future and I’m happy to give a person with that strength, that bright future, the hope that her potential can be realized.”
UC’s accredited MPH program, now in its sixth year, offers access to world-class faculty and six different concentrations including biostatistics, environmental public health, epidemiology, health education, health services management and occupational public health. It’s already regarded as a top program for its diversity, and O’Reilly’s gift will continue to ensure the program’s success.
“This gift will help connect UC and its College of Medicine to become an international leader in public health,” said Dr. Shuk-mei Ho, a professor and chair in UC’s department of environmental health. “We are training future leaders in underdeveloped countries to return with their teachings to improve public health. The concept is exceptional.”
And the donor, well he’s pretty special too.
“Professor O’Reilly is incredibly dedicated to his students. His personal and professional generosity has immeasurably strengthened the MPH program and changed a student’s life,” said Rod Grabowski, president of the UC Foundation. “The UC family is forever grateful.”
Nakafeero is grateful too.
“Thank you (Professor O’Reilly) for the scholarship” Nakafeero said. “The scholarship will enable me to concentrate on my master’s in public health and gain additional practical experience. I’ll do my best to pass forward the blessing I’ve received. I’m excited to go back and give back and share all I’ve learned in public health.”
About the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Established in 1819, the College of Medicine is considered the oldest medical college west of the Allegheny Mountains. Located in the heart of the city just east of the university’s uptown campus, the college has a distinguished reputation for training prominent health care professionals and providing leading-edge research. It’s ranked No. 42 in research by U.S. News & World Reports “Best Grad Schools” rankings. And its pediatrics program ranks third best in the country. For more information, please visit www.med.uc.edu.
About the University of Cincinnati Foundation
Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and is the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati. The foundation supports UC’s aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center and other units to maximize private support. The foundation’s advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, visit uc.edu/foundation.