Mrs. Ivy V. Parsons Polk, a 94-year-old friend and donor of Meharry Medical College, was honored at the 19th annual Circle of Friends Recognition Gala in one of the most touching tributes ever seen at the institution on April 16.
During the ceremony, it was announced that Mrs. Polk had recently named Meharry as beneficiary of her estate. She was also presented with the prestigious Circle of Friends Award, one of the higher accolades given from that group. The award and other acknowledgements Mrs. Polk received came as a complete surprise as she had no idea this was going to be her night.
When Mrs. Polk, who lives in New York City, first heard about Meharry Medical College and its mission to educate and train health care providers to care for the underserved, she immediately established the Ivy V. Polk Endowed Scholarship Fund, in 2007, given annually to medical students who have shown outstanding academic achievement. Five medical students have received the award since its origin.
Prior to the gala, on April 15, Mrs. Polk was present at a dedication ceremony in her honor as she became the first donor to present a naming opportunity to establish the Ivy V. Polk Student Lounge housed in The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education, the newest building on Meharry’s historic campus.
“There’s a special place in my heart for Meharry,” said Polk, as she took center stage at the gala. She declared Meharry as being a great joy in her life. “I truly love being associated with an organization who is faithful to the fulfillment of their mission.” She was clearly overwhelmed and stated she never expected any kind of recognition.
The first recipient of Mrs. Polk’s scholarship, Teethena Cooper, M.D. ’09, drove in from Chicago to be with her on her special night and the newest recipient of her scholarship, Adan Omar, a medical student graduating in May 2015, was also at the event to meet and thank Mrs. Polk for her generosity.
The donors who represent the Circle of Friends are a distinguished group directly responsible for supporting Meharry students who provide compassionate care to others. Annual gifts to Meharry from Circle of Friends members help advance the college’s mission of providing superior education and training to its diverse student body, offering quality clinical care to medically underserved populations and engaging in groundbreaking research on the causes and cures of diseases that have a disproportionate impact on people of color and others from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.