June 7, 2012 – It may have taken Jo-Anne Stenger, M.D. ’74, a few years to fully commit herself to pursuing a career in medicine, but it’s because she has never been the kind of person to just sit and wait for things to happen.
“My theory is, if you don’t try it you will always have regret. So I tried all kinds of things and never had the regret,” she said.
Before returning to UF for her medical degree, Stenger earned her bachelor’s in education at UF, worked for a national airline and taught high school chemistry. But she knew she loved science and after a few years, decided to wholeheartedly pursue a master’s in biology to test herself once again.
“I wasn’t quite sure if I was smart enough for medical school. But when I was at the University of Miami I pretty much made straight A’s,” she said. “I had the maturity of having the time off.”
She also had used the time off to save enough money to pay for most of her graduate education, relying on scholarships and fellowships to help with the rest. Stenger said she realizes that it’s not as easy for students to do that now and that their financial burden is much heavier.
This is one reason why she established the Jo-Anne Sarah Stenger, M.D., Scholarship Fund. The $500,000 bequest will fund the College of Medicine’s first merit scholarship, which awards medical students who have attained high academic achievement.
An overachiever herself, Stenger was the first female at UF to pursue a surgery residency and the first female plastic surgery resident at Stanford University, which led her to private practice at nearby Menlo Medical Clinic where she served on the clinical faculty until she retired after 25 years.
“I feel like I owe the university for all they’ve done for me academically, socially, as an undergraduate and in medical school,” she said. “It’s where I met my best friends and we’re still best friends.”