Six Harrison Scholars

are among the MCG Class of 2018


by Toni Baker

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The 230-member class of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University starting school this week includes the first recipients of student scholarships made possible by the $66 million gift last year from the late Dr. J. Harold Harrison.

The unprecedented gift by the renowned vascular surgeon from Kite, Ga., and 1948 MCG graduate has enabled six medical school scholarships – three full and three partial – starting this academic year.

Twelve Harrison Scholars will be added in subsequent years to each freshman class.

“Dr. Harrison’s extraordinary gift has already generated tremendous excitement at our medical school and among our alumni across our state and nation,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean. “To see the first impact in the form of scholarships for these exceptional medical students is remarkable as well.”

"Three of the Harrison Scholars are the first MCG students ever to receive a scholarship that covers the entire $27,803 annual, instate tuition cost", said Dr. James B. Osborne, President and CEO of the MCG Foundation, which has oversight of the Harrison gift. Three Harrison Scholars received partial scholarships of $15,000 annually.

The merit-based scholarships, which emphasize intellect and outstanding leadership potential, are effective for four years but will be reviewed annually to ensure that recipients continue to meet eligibility standards.

“This truly amazing gift has enabled us to be even more competitive for top students,” said Dr. Paul Wallach, MCG Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. “These are academically outstanding students who had many options for where they went to medical school. The commitment of Dr. Harrison and his family to MCG significantly impacted their decision to choose us.”

“Knowing Dr. Harrison, he would have been very proud of this moment,” said Osborne, a longtime friend. “As a scholar, innovator, and physician, Dr. Harrison would have understood the real benefit of these students to society for generations to come.”

Harrison died June 2, 2012, and a few months later, GRU announced that Harrison and his wife, Sue, had given his name and $10 million toward construction of a new academic home for the medical school. The J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons should open in September. Last year, the MCG Foundation announced the $66 million gift for student scholarship and endowed chairs for faculty.

“These gifts will help ensure that MCG has the best facilities, the best students, and the best faculty”, Osborne said. In addition to the student scholarships, 10 University Distinguished Chairs funded at $2 million each, will be established over the next five years thanks to the Harrison gift, he said.

The first recipients are:

Samuel Cochran, from Atlanta, studied biology and foreign language at Emory University. He has national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate. Cochran has volunteered thousands of hours for Emory EMS and has worked for DeKalb County EMS. He is a trained gymnast and an experienced coach who speaks fluent Spanish.

Robert MacDonell, of Augusta, studied biochemistry at the University of Georgia. His father and brother are both MCG graduates, and MacDonell has participated in GRU’s Summer Student Training and Research Program for undergraduates. He has worked as a telemetry monitor technician at University Hospital and has Basic Cardiac Dysrhythmia certification.

Stanton Royer, was born in Kansas but spent most of his childhood in Augusta. He is a first-generation college graduate who studied chemistry as an undergraduate at GRU where he was active in undergraduate research. He has worked as a research assistant and is an active tutor and community volunteer with a special interest in serving the underprivileged in rural areas of Georgia.

Travis Welsh, is a native of Tyrone, Ga., but has lived all over the country. He studied chemistry at UGA, volunteered with IMPACT Savannah to provide care to the homeless, and worked as a college radio show host for a music as well as a science and medicine talk show.

Anna Willis, from Powder Springs, Ga., studied biology and chemistry at the University of Alabama. She has family ties in Ellijay and Rome and an interest in practicing medicine in a rural area of the state. She is a skilled equestrian who has worked with disabled children to help them overcome their fear of animals and to learn to care for them.

Matthew Winn, from Peachtree City, Ga., had a triple major in biochemistry, biology and microbiology/bacteriology at UGA where he was involved in undergraduate research. He was a member of the UGA Redcoat Marching Band and Derbies Pep Band. He has volunteered with Athens Regional Medical Center and is a founding member of Seeds of Knowledge, which brings education to underprivileged children in Benin, Africa.

“Dr. Harrison always said that MCG gave a country boy the chance to be a physician; that always stuck with me,” Osborne added. “We miss him but he left a great legacy here.”

The first Harrison Scholars were selected by the MCG Scholarship Committee, chaired by Wallach. MCG Foundation Board leaders on the committee include Dr. Mason P. Thompson, a 1973 MCG graduate and MCG Associate Professor Emeritus; Dr. Sandra N. Freeman, a 1968 graduate and MCG Professor Emeritus; and Dr. Charles Green, a 1974 graduate who is Chief of Primary and Emergency Care at the Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center and a clinical faculty member at MCG.