rowing up in South Florida, Jason Rosenberg encountered several
people who helped shape his hopes and dreams, from an art teacher he often swapped stories with before class to a high school principal who frequently drove him home from soccer practice.
“All of us have those people who encourage us to do things we didn’t know we could do,” said Rosenberg, a 1995 graduate of the UF College of Medicine and a Gainesville plastic surgeon specializing in breast cancer reconstruction. As a member of the first generation in his family to attend college, Rosenberg not only earned a bachelor’s and medical degree from UF, but he also completed a master’s degree and his residency training at the UF College of Medicine.
Through an estate gift of $1 million to establish the Rosenberg Family Florida Medical Opportunity Scholarship, he and his wife, Denise Rosenberg, aim to be voices of encouragement for aspiring physicians who might otherwise be unable to afford a medical education. The couple hopes the endowed scholarship will open “doors of opportunity” by helping first-generation college students pursue their dream of attending medical school.
“It’s the ultimate pay-it-forward to give somebody an education that they can then use to help other people,” Denise Rosenberg said.
And, at a time when an estimated 80 percent of American medical students are poised to graduate with $100,000 or more in medical education debt, the UF College of Medicine has embarked on a campaign to encourage philanthropic support of scholarships.
“We know many of the very best candidates will have difficulty handling the cost of earning their medical degree,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, MD, “so we must offer those students not only an exceptional educational opportunity but also exceptional financial support with scholarships.”
As part of the campaign, the UF Medical Alumni Board launched the Legacy Challenge, a call to alumni like Rosenberg to leave their mark on the future of medical education while helping to shape the next generation of UF medical students.
“The value of our degree continues to increase as the quality of our college continues to increase,” said Rosenberg, a member of the UF Board of Trustees and a past president of the UF Alumni Association and the UF Medical Alumni Board. He added that he hopes his family’s gift will inspire other alumni to show their appreciation to the UF College of Medicine through philanthropy.
Over the years, he and his wife have been avid supporters of UF and the UF College of Medicine, funding an endowment for the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholarship program and initiating the Alumni Challenge, a fundraising campaign that led to the creation of the George T. Harrell, MD, Medical Education Building.
“Our philosophy has always been that we have been very blessed with a number of opportunities as a result of our education at the University of Florida,” Jason Rosenberg said, “and we’d like to see our College of Medicine attract the best and brightest students to Gainesville.”
For Denise Rosenberg, the ideal recipient of the Rosenberg Family Medical Opportunity Scholarship would be someone who has a strong work ethic and prides himself or herself on being an independent thinker — “someone who has a drive for success, a drive to help people and a drive to give back,” she said.
Similarly, Jason Rosenberg hopes the recipient is someone who has a passion for serving others. And, while he doesn’t know whether these scholarship recipients might go on to cure major diseases like cancer and diabetes or open a private medical practice to provide top-notch health care for their community, one thing is certain: He looks forward to seeing where their future and medical education will take them.
“I want someone who’s going to go out there and change the world,” he said. “The possibilities are limitless.”
This story originally ran in the Winter 2017 issue of the Doctor Gator newsletter.