In 2013, the average student loan debt for a medical school graduate was almost $170,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. For almost 20% of the class, that bill was $250,000 or more.
American Student Assistance, a national nonprofit organization that helps graduates manage and repay student loans, reports that in addition to adding to financial stress, the impact of student loan debt often delays major life events such as getting married, starting a family, and buying a first home.
Reducing financial burden on students is a major priority of the SOM and one of the top shared goals across the Emory medical education continuum. With philanthropic support from alumni and friends, many high-achieving students receive scholarship support.
E. Charles Fortune, IV, a member of the medical school class of 2017, was this year’s recipient of the Sidney H. Yarbrough, III, MD Endowed Scholarship in Medicine. The scholarship will support Fortune throughout his entire tenure as a medical student, significantly reducing the financial burden he will face when he heads into his residency. Dr. Yarbrough 59C 63M 64MR 66MR 70MR and his wife Becky welcome the opportunities his eponymous scholarship offers to “give back to the School of Medicine what they gave to me.”
Fortune was born and raised in Phenix City, Alabama. Home to little more than 30,000 people, Phenix City sits directly across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia, where Dr. Yarbrough and his wife Becky live. Originally trained as a nuclear engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Fortune decided to pursue medicine after spending some time teaching mathematics at a technical college in Columbus and working with youth groups in this hometown.
Returning to Atlanta for his studies was important to Fortune. He wanted to remain close to his family and friends in Phenix City, and he had grown to love the city from his time at Georgia Tech. After interviewing and re-visiting at Emory, he knew it was the place for him.
“I really hit it off with people in the program. I could see myself going to school with them,” he said.
Fortune was accepted into several medical schools, and cost quickly became a major factor in his decision. “I wanted to come to Emory. In order to afford it, I was going to need some help.” He was relieved—and very grateful—to receive it.
In addition to receiving the Yarbrough Scholarship, Fortune has earned the Ted Wilson, MD and Gerry Wilson Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship. To learn more about supporting endowed scholarships or the Adopt-a-Doc scholarship program, contact development director Andrew Christopherson at 404.727.8253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From left to right: Becky Yarbrough, E. Charles Fortune, IV, Sidney Yarbrough, MD 59C 63M 64MR 66MR 70MR during the alumni awards celebration at Estate 3109 Piedmont. Photo by Pete Winkel