A donation made on #GivingTuesday will go twice as far in memory of a student who died a few days after graduating from MUSC.
Sushma Rao’s classmates and professors described her as an extremely bright, gifted, and compassionate young woman. When she graduated from the MUSC College of Health Professions in 2006, she seemed destined to fulfill her dream of helping others as a physician assistant (PA). Sadly, she passed away unexpectedly just six days after graduation, before her passion and commitment to service could come to fruition.
Her family decided to create the Sushma Rao Memorial Scholarship as a way of honoring her memory and keeping her dream alive for other students with the same passion and commitment. “There's a lot of deserving students that want to do the program but probably don't have enough to make it,” said Sushma’s brother Sonny Rao. “If we can help out with that, that's awesome.”
The scholarship is given annually to a deserving first-year PA student. Mariana Obando Velez received the scholarship in fall of 2019. Like Sushma, Mariana wants to help people.
“I'm a Christian and I am very faithful person,” Mariana said. “I've always just been drawn to service of others and I've been given a passion for medicine. Helping communities that lack some sort of medical service is really a big passion of mine.”
Twelve students, including Mariana, have received the Sushma Rao Memorial Scholarship since it was created in 2007. The Rao family supports the scholarship with a donation each year.
On #GivingTuesday 2019, they doubled their donation to the scholarship through matching funds from Google, where Sonny works as a software engineer. Google is one of hundreds of companies that will match an employee’s charitable giving.
Sonny encourages everyone to check their benefits and see if their employers will match their charitable gifts.
“Most companies will match a considerable amount of money,” Sonny said. “Even if it's not a lot, you can still take advantage of it. Over time it builds up. That’s what we’ve been able to do with Sushma’s scholarship.”
Mariana is grateful for the kindness of the Rao family. “No one’s making them donate and support us, but they believe in what we're doing and what we're trying to do,” Mariana said.