Skip to Content

School of Medicine Greenville

Just What the Doctor Ordered - Episode #1

The Lasting Impact of Philanthropy

JWith ever-increasing tuition costs, seeking donor support for scholarships remains a high-priority fundraising endeavor at colleges and universities. We want to explore how donors use their time, talent,and treasure to make an impact on the School of Medicine Greenville students.

Kayla Sullivan  0:15  
 Welcome to Episode One of just what the doctor ordered, a podcast bring you a monthly dose of news you can use from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Managing a school or a business amid a global pandemic presents a unique set of challenges. But the School of Medicine Greenville is embracing this as an opportunity to adapt and grow. We are excited to provide insight on medical news and events in the Upstate, conducting crucial medical conversations and answering questions as well as a deeper dive into awards, programs, philanthropy and more. My name is Kayla Sullivan, the development assistant at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and I am so excited to introduce our special guests for Episode One of Just What the Doctor Ordered. With ever increasing tuition costs, seeking donor support for scholarships remains a high priority for colleges. Today we want to explore how our fabulous donors use their time, talent, and treasure to make an impact at the School of Medicine Greenville and the students. Today I am joined by our two special guests, Jen Manus and Ethan Covil. Jen, can you share a little bit more about your role in philanthropy at the School of Medicine Greenville?

Jenn Maness  1:25  
Thank you, Kayla. I sure can. I am a part of our collaborative development team that is a partnership between the University of South Carolina and Prisma Health. And so in my job, I get the fun, incredible work of working with Dean Jenkins, the Dean of our medical school, to help identify our fundraising priorities, our philanthropy priorities, and I get to work to raise major gifts for us. Those are anything 25,000 and above. And I am really excited and proud of what we accomplished together as a team.

Ethan Covil  2:02  
Thank you so much, Jen. And Ethan, we're so happy to have you here. Can you share a little bit more about your journey to the School of Medicine Greenville. And tell us more about yourself.Well, thank you for having me on. I kind of feel out of place. But I'm really appreciative of being able to talk about my experience with philanthropy and then also just my medical school experience so far. So I'm an M1. So I'm still the baby of medical school. I have a few modules under my belt. So I feel like I can speak to it. As far as how I ended up at USC Greenville. I went to undergrad at Wofford graduated in 2020, graduated whatever that looks like. Um, and for a while I was in between going to seminary and pursuing medicine. And so I was kind of going back and forth, back and forth. And then finally, I was shadowing a local physician through Medex Academy, which is kind of like a pipeline program, if you will, for medical professionals. I was shadowing a surgeon and something just clicked and I went this is it. So early decision to USC Greenville because I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Thankfully got in. And like a year and a half later, here we are.

Kayla Sullivan  3:33  
Well, we're so glad that you chose School of Medicine Greenville. And I'm so excited to get to know you both a little more. So let's just loosen things up a little bit. So I have a little game that we're going to play. So this is going to be my famous tongue twister game. And I'm going to have both of you say philanthropy three times as fast as you can.

Jenn Maness  3:54  
May I go first Ethan? 

Ethan Covil  3:57  
Please set the bar extremely high for me. 

Jenn Maness  4:00  
Fully it's a big flame. I came out of the gates so confident. 

Kayla Sullivan  4:07  
You really did. Ethan you want to see if you can do better somehow? 

Ethan Covil  4:13  
 Philanthropy, philanthropy, philanthropy. 

Kayla Sullivan  4:17  
Wow. I'm impressed. I'm impressed. Thank you for at least making an attempt. So Jen, can you share a little bit more about philanthropy and how it shows up in your role School of Medicine Greenville?

Jenn Maness  4:34  
Yeah, absolutely. Philanthropy In the broad sense when we say that word that generally means doing good for all of humankind, right, identifying ways to help where there's a need and filling that need. And then for us, what that looks like is a practice not a one time, gift or volunteer service but a continued practice of serving the community. At the School of Medicine Greenville, it is a team sport. I am a firm believer in that because it takes a village to get where we need to go.

Kayla Sullivan  5:12  
Awesome. So philanthropy is, you know, our friends and close associates and students and alumni and everyone kind of giving their time, talent and treasure. So can you talk a little bit about the student impact of that?

Jenn Maness  5:26  
I would love to it's one of my favorite subjects. So philanthropy I mentioned earlier, our team works with Dr. Jenkins on identifying what impact can a donor make? What problem are they going to solve? And so for us, that tends to look like student scholarships, or research support; the idea of getting a student to and through medical school, the idea of how do we innovate? We are an incredible medical school, but how do we get even better? And where are the gaps in that, that an individual or corporation a foundation can help support? What about community outreach? You mentioned volunteering earlier, and I am so proud, and I know I'm biased. But I'm so proud of the fact that we are training doctors from day one, to not just look inside the walls of their hospital or their practices, but the see the broader needs of a community and the broader scope of a community. And we do that off the bat within the med school. And so how do we support our community outreach and strengthen our partnership? So that's a big view. And now I'm going to talk you heard me say to and through for student. So student impact, let's talk practical. It's literally in a scholarship or research type in the case it is literally making the practical happen. Giving financial support to cover what is an enormous burden in the cost of medical school. One of my favorite things, anecdotally is to talk to our retired physicians, for whom medical school cost, nothing compared to what it does now on average. And they're like, what are you saying, you know, our average medical students debt is over $200,000. And when you frame that, that's like graduating with a mortgage without a house. And for some students, first of all, that can be deeply prohibitive, to even apply to med school that is daunting, then if they get in, they may look at that debt load and think, Okay, well, I was originally interested in a lower paying specialty. But if I've got to pay that off, then I'm going to I'm going to kind of forego where my passion is and my strengths are, and I'm going to work myself to this higher paying specialty. And then that of course, that looks like down the road. Job dissatisfaction, burnout, a whole host of other problems. And so scholarships really lay some of the practical groundwork to alleviate, that. I get as excited about that as the deep relief that scholarships and support give our students as I do about the mental and the emotional benefits that has and I don't want to step on Ethan's toes. I know he's gonna weigh in on this in a second. But that is telling our students, whether they receive a name scholarship, like Ethan did, or a pedestal scholarship, what we call kind of our general scholarship fund that is telling them there is someone, some family, some company, some foundation that said yes to you. That's a yes, I believe in you, and I am behind you. And that is powerful to know that they are supported. That is also laying the groundwork for future support from our alumni. When they're practicing physicians, one of the best moments of my last year has been hearing from our students. I want to do this, I want to do this when I'm able to Jen, what does it look like to give back? If I want to start a named scholarship one day? What does that look like? What can I do? And how do I get there? How do I start an award? How do I you know, budget? Or how do I approach that? And that is thrilling because that's one generation. One generation of donors, and physicians and community members setting up the next generation. And by the way, that's not just you give to a student and support you. We're supporting and helping the 1000s of patients they're going to see in their lifetime. That is multi generational impact.

Kayla Sullivan  9:52  
Absolutely. Wow. Jen, thank you so much that really helped paint the picture. So Ethan is one of our many students who received the scholarship to attend the school of medicine Greenville,  and we're just so excited he's here. So Ethan, can you share a little bit more about the scholarship you received and your journey since that moment?

Ethan Covil  10:13  
I've had the privilege of hearing a lot from Mrs. Jenn throughout the year and leading up to the year. So I was the first recipient of the William Kellett scholarship, which is honoring the legacy of Dr. Kellett. Dr. William Kellett, not to be confused with his brother, but it honors his legacy of steward of the community. And it's deeply humbling and honoring to me to be the first. But then also just to have that peace of mind. Jen mentioned the stress that comes with being in medical school. And so for those who are listening and don't know, or maybe it's been a while there are so many stressors in medical school. The thing I tell people, when they ask me, because I'm at the age where people should be in jobs. They ask me, What do you do, and I say, I fight fires back never quite put them out. So I describe it that I'm always jumping from fire to fire. And I'm never really fixing the things going on. But rather, we're just like going from stressors, stressors. So there's exams for the classes, there's board exams, there's the stress of trying to learn everything that's being presented to you, because somebody is life will be on the line based on the information. There's trying to get research done to further the medical field. And then you have this daunting thing of trying to find a residencies and specialties. There's so much stress. But the thing is, all those things I just described to you are just academic, medical students are still people, you still have to pay bills, you still have personal lives and family stuff going on. And so by giving in by helping either through scholarships, or through other resources, like time and mentorship, you're helping relieve just some of those stresses. So that way, a student's not thinking of how am I going to pay for medical school? But how am I going to do well in medical school? How am I going to excel? How am I going to learn this information so that way I can take better care of my future patients. Jen really touched on a key point. And I think it's the biggest thing that the Kellett scholarship has given me andnd that's flexibility when it comes to determining specialties. She mentioned some debt. And so I have some numbers off the top of my head, because I'm really interested in how it affects students from even Kayla, you said the prohibitive nature of the cost, not the cost of applying to medical school is outrageous, you have to pay for MCAT, which is already expensive, you might have to take it more than once. And then applying to the medical school is expensive, whether it be getting interview clothes, which is prohibitive for some people, for people who have to pay for secondary applications. If they apply to multiple schools, thankfully, I only had to apply to one. But for the people who do apply to the various schools, those expenses add up. And there is no guarantee of a return on investment on those. And so then you start paying for medical school once you get accepted. And you see these huge amounts of debt they're being incurred incredibly quickly. These numbers I'm about to tell you are just from medical school. The class of 2020s are about matriculate into residencies. They 70% of them have over $200,000 in debt for medical school alone. You can't blame medical students for wanting to go into more lucrative specialties with that kind of burden on them. I think Jen put it into a very realistic nitty gritty example of that is a house that has a mortgage that is sitting on your shoulders. And then you have to pay another mortgage because you need a place to live. And so you have almost crippling debt that happens. So the implication is that students don't get to choose what they love, but rather what's going to pay the bills. That's the sad, sad reality that they get into. And so, by giving to a scholarship, what you do is you enable students to pursue their interest rather than what's going to make their student loans disappear. And ultimately, this might be far reaching. But ultimately, I see there being a decrease in physician burnout as an increase in financial aid whether that be reduction of tuition like you've seen schools like New York, NYU, or the increase in scholarships. With a decrease in student debt, physicians can choose to spend the rest of their lives doing something they love. And so I think that's the power of scholarships, whether it be named endowed scholarships, or general scholarship funds, or even the research grants that Jen mentioned. You give the flexibility for future physicians to do what they love, and thus help the community even more by being more enthusiastic about what they're doing.

Jenn Maness  15:39  
Yeah, I want to Ethan then you said something about student debt, and the idea of going into higher paying specialties that made me think, too, we can't forget that South Carolina is woefully behind as a state in our number of physicians and that's for a number of reasons. But knowing that we especially need more primary care doctors, and knowing if I'm not mistaken, those tend to be some of the lower paying physician positions, knowing that if that's where our deepest greatest need is, then if we can help alleviate the debt that students interested in those positions would have, then that is a win win for us now and for our future patients.

Ethan Covil  16:27  
Correct. Because scholarships are ultimately an investment. An investment in both the person, the student who receives the scholarship, and then also the community at large. Jen, you're exactly right. Just based on how, historically and currently, how physician salaries are kind of constructed. The more primary care specialties have less of a fee for service model, and therefore, they don't generate as much revenue, therefore, they don't generate as much income. Just kind of the sad truth of the medical system where it is. Through scholarships, you allow students should they have been originally interested in primary care, they can now choose to do that, and not have to worry about being in debt for 15 years, 20 years after leaving medical school, or if somebody isn't originally interested in and say internal medicine or pediatrics, Family Medicine, if they find out and in three years during their clerkships that they are interested in it? Well, now, they don't have to worry about the financial implication of choosing that specialty when maybe they thought they wanted to do a surgical specialty, or something else. Now they can go, Okay, well, I just need to focus on doing what I love, instead of focusing on what's going to make those outrageous interest rates go down quicker. 

Jenn Maness  18:01  
That's an excellent point.

Kayla Sullivan  18:03  
Wow. Well, I love this conversation, you guys are both making really great connections between the power of philanthropy and the impact on our community, the impact on our students, and then alleviating some of the burdens that are already present in our healthcare systems now. And so I think this has just been a very robust conversation. So Ethan, I just want to say congratulations on your scholarship. And that is just such a generous gift. I am curious to know, have you gotten to interact with the Kellett's since receiving your scholarship,

Ethan Covil  18:39  
So I'm thrilled to say yes, even in the midst of a global pandemic, that we've still been able to meet, whether it was through zoom, but we did get to meet. I got to speak with the Kellett family, and they are wonderful. It was Jen organized zoom where we kind of got to meet just for a little bit. Um, it was during structure function one I remember because I was learning the brachial plexus. It was on my whiteboard behind me and me and Dr. Kellett, the brother of Dr. William Kellett, who the scholarships named for we were talking about the brachial plexus, and he said it was like, reminiscent for him to see that. Miss Lydia when I got to meet her on the call, she was just always smiling. And she was always offering her support. And so one of the things that we talked about scholarships being an investment in the person. It was clear to me just from that one zoom, that she was invested in me not just from a financial standpoint, but she wants to see me do well and she wants to keep track of the things I'm doing. And so I've tried to be intentional about letting Jen know what's kind of going on in my life so that way she can tell the Kellets family and the friends of the Kellets who donate to the scholarship um, but because of the pandemic right now, obviously, things look a little different. So we haven't gotten to do anything fun like them come over to my house and meet cook my famous grilled chicken or anything like that. Hopefully, one day, we can work on that Jen.

Jenn Maness  20:16  
I'm inviting myself to that.

Ethan Covil  20:18  
You're always invited. Um, but so like, as we look forward and seeing, like, how can we incorporate our our donors into school medicine, one of the things that we're looking to is the white coat ceremony. Which is traditionally held in the fall after our first exam. Because of COVID, obviously, large gatherings, it's been pushed back and pushed back, we're hoping my fingers are crossed, that it's going to happen late May. And obviously, things fluctuate and are very liquid. So we're going to wait but hope the hope is that we can have it in the outdoor setting so that way, our families can come and they can see  the white coat be put on us, which is obviously a very huge symbolic moment. And so the hope is that the Kellets could come and in some way shape or form that could either be with my family while I'm there or based on social distance guidelines, they'd be in maybe another place, but the goal is to have them there so that they can see that their investment in me and the investment in the community and in school is paying dividends.

Jenn Maness  21:35  
Absolutley, I want to highlight something Kayla, if you don't mind. So part of the beauty of Ethan's story with the Kellets and the Kellets generosity in giving this scholarship speaks to the necessary power and the wonderful power of our community and what is a very young medical school. We opened our doors in 2012. And we have relied and been fueled on from a philanthropy standpoint, the generosity and the commitment and the enthusiasm of our community whether that's a retired physician, like Dr. Mike Kellett wanting to give back in memory and an honor of his brother's legacy. They practiced together for over 30 years in Greenville, and to support the next generation of Wofford physicians, as they're both Wofford graduates come from a long line of them. Whether it looks like that are retired physicians who know what med school is like, who know what the practice is like, and want to lift up the next generation. The idea of standing on the shoulders of giants, you know, you don't get to where you are alone. And so kind of paying tribute to the folks who helped you get there and then supporting the next generation, whether it's that, whether it's really forward thinking companies that want to look at where our innovation needs, how is that a way to support faculty and students? Explore and expand what patient research looks like how to access better care, how to provide better value care, how do we partner with organizations? All of that deeply important, but would be impossible without the support of our community as we are still launching our alumni out into the world. Obviously, our alumni and our faculty and our students know our school the best. And so they have that fire in their belly for it. And along with that it's important for us to also keep our community in the loop about our med school. I love nerding out about philanthropy because it's such a beautiful puzzle of affinity. What you care about, what you want to impact in your capacity. What is your giving look like? Does it look like mentorship today? I heard even say that earlier, does it? Does it look like honoring somebody you love? Does it look like helping provide innovative equipment? What does it look like for you? And I love figuring out that puzzle.

Kayla Sullivan  24:22  
Oh, well thank you so much, Jen and Ethan. This has just been such an inspiring conversation and I would love to have a deeper conversation but this is just a podcast. Jen, how can other people get more involved in the philanthropic efforts at the School of Medicine Greenville

Jenn Maness  24:40  
That is a great question, Kayla. Now is a great time to be involved in our philanthropic efforts and our priorities in the way we usher in the next decade in our medical school. We've got our 10 year anniversary coming up next year which is hard to believe. Like Ethan hinted at, we have gotten creative in terms of including donors and prospects, those who may be interested in philanthropy at the med school. That has looked like everything from zoom calls the very distant coffee dates or drop off to say, Hello. Anybody interested in supporting the med school at any level, every dollar makes a difference, um, can reach out via email to me at jmaness j ma n e ss at or that's always a good place to start.

Kayla Sullivan  25:43  
Thank you. So Ethan, and I want to say thank you again for your valuable insight as a scholarship recipient, as a future physician, as a South Carolina native. And thank you so much for being here. And what is your message to students like yourself or even alumni who want to get involved in the philanthropic work at School of Medicine Greenville?

Ethan Covil  26:05  
First, I have a message for donors, future donors, considering donors, that whatever resource you choose to give, whether it be your, your time, your mentorship, your energy, financial gifts, all of them have a significant impact on the student's life. And then the community as a whole. It's a ripple effect. Jen mentioned it that by you supporting one medical student, think of the 1000s of people you impact because of the 1000s of people, they will impact in their practice. So donors know that the things that you give so generously are having a profound impact. Obviously, the financial giving might not make sense. And maybe for alumni because a lot of the Greenville alums are either just finishing residency or about to finish residency, they might be in fellowship, realize that like, we would love your support in the future, you know what it's like to be a student at Greenville, you have a very unique perspective. And I think being involved in philanthropy from your institute, alumni institution is a beautiful way to give back versus students who are in medical school now, obviously, financial giving might not be feasible. But there's other opportunities to give back volunteering. You know, there are tons of ways to volunteer even during a global pandemic. The Kellett scholarship has been so incredibly humbling and impactful in my life, how can I make sure that I can have the same impact on another future medical students life? And so going ahead and planning on how I will be able to give one day once I'm in a place where I'm financially stable enough.

Jenn Maness  28:04  
Yeah, that's so powerful Ethan and it speaks to the idea of the practice of philanthropy where you are, maybe as a young alum, your practice of philanthropy looks like offering to host a student who's in the middle of a residency interview near you, right, or doing a mentorship, call, something like that. I've seen our fourth year students at the med school give their time to serve on our admissions committee, and give really valuable student insight that other members of that committee wouldn't necessarily have. They're in a different place in the medical school or the community and the students are able to speak into their insights for candidates. And so I want to encourage folks that are listening again, when you think of philanthropy, think about the practice of it. And think about where you are in where your affinity lies, what you're interested in what you want to know more about, and then what your capacity at the moment looks like. 

Kayla Sullivan  29:06  
Absolutely. This is such a great conversation and I want to say thank you both for being here. You are both so fun to talk to you and so exciting and Ethan we wish you the best as you continue your med school journey and I do hope that we do get to see you again in some other capacity.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.