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A Scholarship Grounded in Values
Rachel Ross Honors Professor Feingold
When Rachel Ross (MPH '05) told her father she'd received a Eugene Feingold Memorial Scholarship to study at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Bob Ross was profoundly moved. Feingold had been his mentor back in 1963 when Bob was a Michigan undergrad studying political science and Feingold was a member of the department.
Rachel herself had gotten to know Gene Feingold when she first came to Michigan as an undergrad in 1994. Feingold had long since moved from political science to SPH, where he taught about the politics of health care and labored tirelessly on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Like countless others who fell into his orbit, Rachel Ross soon found herself hoping to follow in Feingold's footsteps.
That she eventually received a scholarship bearing his name was a coincidence, Ross notes, but adds, "That scholarship was for somebody who shared his values, and it was not a coincidence that I shared his values. I really feel as though it was because of him that I was able to have such a wonderful education at Michigan, and that in a lot of ways it is in his honor that I'm doing the work I do."
Since 2005, Ross has been project manager for Socios En Salud, the Peruvian sister organization of Partners in Health, a health care outreach program founded by physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer. Ross puts in long days helping to bring shelter, food, and health care to the thousands of people who live in shanty-towns around Lima.
"Leaving things on my desk at the end of the day matters in ways that it wouldn't somewhere else," she says. "There is a sense of urgency to it that is real."
Gene Feingold died in 2002, and Ross began her graduate studies at SPH in 2003. But others at the school had taken up Feingold's mantle, among them Associate Professor Richard Lichtenstein, who became "a wonderful mentor" to Ross.
Lichtenstein and Feingold exemplify Michigan's commitment to social justice, Ross says, and it's why she chose Michigan over peer institutions.
"Michigan had the strongest sense of connecting public health with social justice," she says. "It was a really important part of my decision to come and of my experience being there."
And because the Feingold scholarship freed her from burdensome postgraduate debt, Ross could follow her dreams wherever they led - in this case, Peru - and thus further the legacy of the scholarship's namesake, a gentle man and inspired teacher who possessed a noble and generous heart.
For information on the UM SPH Axelrod/Feingold Scholarship Fund, other scholarship funds, or to make a contribution, visit www.sph.umich.edu/challenge
Interview and article written by Leslie Stainton, editor, Findings magazine