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School of Medicine discoveries

April 2012 Archives


Member of Class of 2014 honored for leadership

VCU’s Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services honored the School of Medicine’s Priyam Vyas with the University Leadership Award for his commitment to improving lives in Richmond and abroad.

“Priyam is the type of student that makes VCU School of Medicine proud,” said Chris Woleben, M.D., the School of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Student Affairs and graduate of the medical school’s Class of 1997. “Starting in his undergraduate experience and continuing into medical school, Priyam has actively been involved in a variety of student activities while frequently assuming leadership positions.”

Vyas came to Richmond as a VCU freshman in 2006. By virtue of his acceptance into the university’s Guaranteed Admittance program, he looked forward to his eventual acceptance into the medical school if he maintained his GPA and met other program criteria for health care and volunteer experience.

As an undergraduate student, Vyas studied the Richmond Ambulance Authority and worked to replicate the system in Gujarat, India, a city that had no previous ambulance service. He applied his knowledge and received government funding in India. Thanks to Vyas’ efforts, Gujarat now has three ambulances.

Now a member of the Class of 2014, Vyas has served as the graduate representative on the Board of Visitors and as president of both the medical school’s ENT Student Interest Group and the David Hume Surgical Society. In those student organizations, he has worked to inform his peers about their chosen specialties by connecting them with alumni.

Vyas said that because his medical training connects him closely with many people, it gives him a unique perspective on leadership.

“I feel like doctors are in a unique position to lead, because we connect with people on such a personal level,” Vyas said. “We have insight into people’s lives. We know them truly inside and out, and I believe we’ll make the best leaders because we can represent people best.”


Classmates honor 2005 alumna with a scholarship in her name

When Rebecca Clary Harris’ classmates remember her, they think of her positive attitude and her ever-present smile.

Rebecca Clary Harris, M.D.

Rebecca Clary Harris, M.D., in her cap and gown at the 2005 graduation ceremony.

“She made the most out of every moment, brought out the good in everything and always found a reason to be happy and smile,” said Katrina Kandra McLellan, M’05. “Ever since I met her, I’ve wanted to be more like her. I think she taught us all how to be better people.”

Becca — as she was known to her friends — had been the third generation of her family to attend the medical school, and was beloved by her classmates and faculty. In 2007, just two years after their graduation from medical school, Becca’s classmates were shocked to learn that she had been killed in an accident. Soon after, her classmates began to make gifts in her memory, creating what they see as a living memorial to her remarkable character as well as to her service and devotion to the field of medicine, particularly melanoma research.

Make a gift

You can help the scholarship to grow over time by making a gift in Becca’s memory.

They recently hit the $10,000 mark and so, for the first time, the fund will be used this fall to award a scholarship to an altruistic student who embodies the qualities of kindness, compassion, unguarded optimism and unquestionable character that made Becca who she was. Preference will be given to someone who has completed post-baccalaureate graduate training in physiology or who intends to pursue melanoma research.

Becca’s classmates had made their gifts to the fund quietly, unbeknownst even to her family. Once the scholarship was ready to be awarded, they asked the family to come together so they could share what had been accomplished in Becca’s memory. Amidst the tears and memories, Becca’s legacy lived on.

At the gathering, her classmates presented her family with a memory book, filled with photos and reminiscences of Becca. For the album, Byrd Davenport, M’05, wrote “As her friends and classmates we are in a position to try to embody, so far as we can, the good things Becca did, and the way she lived. She really was inspiring. And will remain so.”

Becca's family and classmates

In April 2012, Becca’s friends surprised her family with the news that they had created a scholarship in her name. Pictured, from left to right: Becca’s sister Margaret Clary, her mother Kay Clary, classmate Nicole Kelleher-Linkonis, Becca’s husband Justin Harris, classmates Meera Pahuja Mate and Katrina Kandra McLellan, Becca’s sister Kathryn Clary Angus, her father Dr. Richard Clary, M’74, classmates Libby Sherwin, Janae Johnson Sureja and Katherine Johnson, and Becca’s brother-in-law Jason Angus.

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Updated: 04/29/2016