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More than a Benefactor - Scholarship forges interpersonal connection

December 01, 2023
Emily Rech/MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School

More than a Benefactor - Scholarship forges interpersonal connection

When Taylor Halsey—a student at MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School in the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases program—submitted her application for the school’s Fall Awards cycle, she did not anticipate that she would be the inaugural recipient of the Molly S. Bray, PhD Scholarship. Even better, she did not yet know that this scholarship would provide her the opportunity to connect with an alumna of the Graduate School. Scholarships and fellowships of any size not only help students pursue their passions for research, but also provide an opportunity for alumni to have a personal link to the next generation of scientists.

Even though the two had only met virtually, Bray was impressed by Halsey and her studies. When the time came for Halsey to defend her research on the role of gut microbiota on immune checkpoint inhibitor-mediated Colitis last month, Bray saw her chance to show her support for her first scholarship recipient. To Halsey's complete surprise, Bray drove into the Texas Medical Center from The University of Texas at Austin to sit in on her defense. Afterwards, the two met each other in person for the first time.

“Dr. Bray has gone above and beyond to extend her support and mentorship to me since I received her scholarship almost two years ago,” says Halsey. “The fact that she put in an even greater effort to attend my defense in person is such an honor and I felt so fortunate to have her in my corner for such a momentous time in my career. I hope we can stay connected for years to come!”

Although not required, many scholarships and fellowships at the Graduate School are put in place by members of the community who not only want to offer financial assistance to current students, but mentorship and connection as well.

“The best part of my role in development is having a front-row seat in experiencing the direct impact our alumni support has on our current students,” says UTHealth Houston’s Director of Development, Susan Simon. “When deciding to support the Graduate School through scholarship, Dr. Bray reflected on her time in graduate school and the effect the scholarship she received had on her pursuit of her PhD.”

The Graduate School wholeheartedly appreciates the commitments and contributions our alumni have continued to provide for our current students and our community.

Read more about Hasley here

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