COUPLE CREATES ENDOWMENT TO HONOR MENTOR
A professor’s impact on students’ lives, today and 20 years from today, can easily be underestimated – especially by the professor. But the students of the late Sturgis McKeever know the truth of it.
During his 26 years as a Georgia Southern biologist – and beyond – McKeever influenced the lives of thousands of Georgia Southern students, many of them medical researchers and physicians like Scott (‘88) and Janet (‘87) Lubas. Through their skill and compassion, his knowledge and love of learning lives on.
Now, the Lubases want to honor their former professor while helping other students fulfill their dreams of a career in medicine.
“Dr. McKeever was amazing,” said Janet, an internal medicine physician. “Sturgis is probably the reason I went into medicine. He was the most demanding professor we ever had. For somebody who made that big of an impression on us, we thought we should do something that helps other people as much as he helped us.
“We wanted to leave something, to make some contribution to society that would outlive us,” she said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What are worthy causes that we can give our money and our time that can help other people?’ One of those things is education.”
Janet and Scott have created the McKeever Scholars program, which provides funds for collaboration between the University Honors Program and pre-medicine/pre-veterinary students, support of Phi Delta Epsilon honor society activities, travel to conferences and seminars, shadowing experiences, enhanced research opportunities, and equipment and materials relating to pre-professional training. A second fund, the McKeever Scholarships, provides financial awards to pre-medicine and pre-veterinary students.
“Understanding the importance of a diversified pre-professional curriculum and, more significantly, extracurricular ‘real-life’ experiences, has led to the creation of the McKeever Scholars’ Fund,” Janet said. “We hope this legacy will help enable Georgia Southern’s continued success in producing the multi-talented individuals pursuing professional careers as veterinarians or physicians.”
Both Scott, a former cancer therapy researcher at the Medical College of Georgia and West Virginia University, and Janet needed jobs while they pursued demanding coursework. Working was a financial necessity, but it caused them to miss out on some learning opportunities with peers and professionals as well as miss exposure to cutting edge literature and research in the medical field. The couple wants promising students to be able to focus on those kinds of experiences in addition to classroom and lab work.
Their gift makes that possible. They’re also hoping former classmates, now colleagues, will want to help their successors and honor Sturgis McKeever.
“Scott and I would like some of the other people who were there when we were, to, over time, contribute to help more students,” said Janet. “We’re hoping that our gift stimulates discussion among the people who were in our classes – the other people who went to med school, vet school or dentistry school. I’d like for there to be more funds in Dr. McKeever’s name that will help all the other students.
“What I don’t want is to have a student that’s good or has a chance to do this to be held up because of funds,” she said.
On a day-to-day basis everyone can positively impact those around them, but as a physician, Janet sees the results more quickly than most. “I know from taking care of patients over the years that I affect people more than I think,” she said. “And I’m pretty sure that my professors know that they made an impact, but not as much as they really did.
“Dr. McKeever was a demanding instructor, a generous mentor and a genuine friend to all of us lucky enough to know him. He excelled in many different areas – in the field, the lab, the classroom, and also in his endeavors of photography, illustration and research, but most importantly as a role model,” Janet said. “He was always there to offer encouragement and focus us toward our goals.”
– David Thompson
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