First Van Vessem Scholarship awarded to FSU College of Medicine student on Match Day

Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 9:51 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - For graduating FSU College of Medicine students, Match Day is a moment filled with drama. It’s the day the nearly 120 students find out where they’ll be headed to complete residency training.

Friday’s Match Day ceremony was moved online for a second year in a row due to the pandemic, and one medical student earned an extra honor, becoming the first recipient to receive a scholarship born from tragedy.

The shooting at Tallahassee Hot Yoga proved to be one of Florida state’s darkest days. Two victims were killed, including FSU College of Medicine’s Nancy Van Vessem.

Two and a half years later, Vessem’s name is now attached to a life-changing scholarship.

FSU College of Medicine dean, Dr. John Fogarty, said, “We thought that providing a substantial scholarship to a student, to encourage them to come back, to encourage them to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Van Vessem, would be a reasonable thing to do.”

In addition to serving as Capital Health Plan’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Van Vessem practiced general internal medicine, something Fogarty says isn’t always a top choice for medical school grads.

“There aren’t many general internists anymore,” explained Fogarty.

To encourage more, the Van Vessem Scholarship boosts a graduating student planning on a residency to be a general internists or study geriatrics in the Big Bend.

Liberty County native Jimmy Brown was the first ever recipient.

“He’s just a wonderful young man,” Fogarty described. “Committed to serving his community, committed to doing exactly the thing our mission is designed to do”

Brown was unable to talk with WCTV Friday, but said in a statement that he applied for the scholarship with hopes to continue the work started by Dr. Van Vessem.

“She was an extraordinary person who touched many many people in this community,” said Capital Health Plan CEO, John Hogan.

Hogan says the scholarship will change lives, while making sure a former colleague’s legacy gets the recognition it deserves.

“She was a tremendous clinical leader who left an impact that’s very long lasting, and this is just another reflection on that,” added Hogan.

On a momentous day, one generation helping another during a time we need doctors more than ever.

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