Giving in Action + Class of 1993

From the Summer 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Medicine Magazine

David Freedy, center, and classmates.
David Freedy, center, and classmates.

Whether it’s former classmates or perfect strangers coming together to support a great cause, there is no denying that there is strength in numbers.

The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) Class of 1993 is a prime example of what a group can accomplish when it works together toward a goal. As its members prepare to gather in October for Reunion weekend they are raising funds for a scholarship that they established in memory of their friend and classmate, David Freedy.

Freedy, tall, lean and athletic, was by all accounts an outstanding student and friend. He came to VUSM from the University of Notre Dame and quickly became a class favorite with his outgoing personality and sense of fun and adventure. He was diagnosed with gastric cancer in March of his third year of medical school and exhibited exceptional courage and perseverance in his battle with the disease. He remained in medical school and continued to care for patients until just weeks before his death in October 1992.

“David was a very amicable, likeable young man who made a lot of friends at Vanderbilt,” said his friend and classmate Robert Jotte, M.D., Ph.D. ‘96.

After David died, Jotte and other friends and classmates established the David Freedy Memorial Fund, now the David Freedy 1993 School of Medicine Class Scholarship. More than 20 years later, the scholarship fund continues to support a medical student in recognition of leadership and courage he or she has demonstrated in facing and overcoming challenges.

The latest recipient of the scholarship is Ilyas Mohamed Eli, M.D., ‘14. Eli graduated from VUSM in May and is doing his neurosurgery residency at the University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals.

“There are a lot of added costs to the fourth year…all these extra costs add up. The scholarship helped with that, and I didn’t need to take out extra loans. I really appreciate the scholarship,” Eli said.

As the members of the Class of ‘93 make their plans to return to campus for Reunion 2014, their thoughts will be with their friend and classmate. Their reunion fundraising efforts will help ensure that Freedy’s legacy lives on.

“David was able to pull everyone in the class together and show them how to have fun and teach them the world goes on outside the classroom, the library and books. I think that is a great memory that people in our class have of him, and we feel some sort of ownership of building on that memory and legacy by donating to the class scholarship fund in his name,” said Jotte.

Jotte still keeps in touch with Freedy’s parents, Hank and Judith, who have fond memories of their son’s time at Vanderbilt.

“The Vanderbilt family was wonderful from day one,” Judith Freedy said. “David was such a promising young man and was viewed that way by everyone around us. The comfort we received from Vanderbilt took a lot of our pain away so we could focus on comforting other people.”

Scholarships are an important component of the School of Medicine’s Scholarship Initiative, an effort to raise awareness and funds for the scholarship endowment. Those interested in learning more about the impact of scholarships or who want to make a gift can do so at vu.edu/mdscholarship.  –Kathy Whitney