Newswise — EL PASO, Texas – On Tuesday, March 30, Dionicio Alvarez, M.D., and his wife Alice Alvarez announced a generous gift of $250,000 in support of the Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
TTUHSC El Paso will match the gift, doubling its impact in establishing the $500,000 Dionicio and Alice Alvarez Medical Scholars Endowment. The endowment fund will be used to award scholarships to medical students, with preference for students from El Paso.
The endowment will be the largest dedicated scholarship fund for Foster School of Medicine students established by donors. Dr. and Mrs. Alvarez understand how challenging it can be for Borderland students to get through medical school – their hope is that scholarship support removes financial barriers for Alvarez scholars to focus on becoming the next generation of compassionate health care heroes for our community. Endowed funds at TTUHSC El Paso are invested, and the interest earned is used for student scholarships.
The announcement was made in honor of National Doctors’ Day on March 30.
"We’re thankful for the tremendous amount of support the university and Foster School of Medicine receive from the community and alumni like Dr. Alvarez," said Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso and dean of the Foster School of Medicine. "Investments like this are transforming the lives of our students and health care in our community. These scholarships will help TTUHSC El Paso remain competitive while also investing in the local workforce and the future of health care in our region."
At the announcement event, Dr. Lange and Dr. and Mrs. Alvarez discussed how the gift will help support the school’s mission of advancing education, research and health care for our diverse community.
“We’re doing this for a particular reason,” Dr. Alvarez said as he spoke to medical students attending the announcement. “You’ll be going through doors for the rest of your life. We're just trying to open the very first door so scholarship recipients can concentrate on their studies and not have to worry about financial struggles.”
Mrs. Alvarez became emotional as she recognized the first three medical students – each El Pasoans who attended Eastwood, Americas and Horizon high schools – to receive Alvarez scholarships.
“It gives me great joy that students from El Paso are doing this to help residents in our community,” Mrs. Alvarez said to the medical students. “As long as we can, we will continue to support TTUHSC El Paso. I just want to thank you all and tell you not to forget – compassion, compassion, compassion. Do not forget the reason you went into medicine. To help humanity. Thank you for choosing this career. It’s a difficult one but you can do it. I know you can do it.”
Andrea Silvas, a fourth-year student at the Foster School of Medicine, is one of the first recipients of an Alvarez scholarship. She graduated from Eastwood High School before attending the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating in May 2021, Silvas will attend a double-residency in medicine and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Being that this is my hometown, I had a desire to serve my community through medicine and attending medical school here was one of the most special things for me. It opened the door for possibilities like going to Johns Hopkins for residency,” Silvas said. “That wouldn’t have been a possibility at all without the opportunities the Foster School of Medicine afforded me in preparation of becoming a doctor.”
Silvas found out about a month ago that she received an Alvarez scholarship, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It was just so much relief and comfort knowing there are donors willing to invest in me and my future in serving others just as Dr. Alvarez has done throughout his career,” Silvas said. “It was a joy and an honor, and I hope that one day I can bless other people the same way that I felt blessed by the Alavarezes at this time. It’s honestly very humbling.”
Silvas would like to return to El Paso and practice medicine and join TTUHSC El Paso to teach the next generation of doctors.
Dr. Alvarez, a kidney specialist who practices in El Paso, and his wife have been long-time supporters of TTUHSC El Paso. They have contributed to the Breast Care Center at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and the Foster School of Medicine’s Infinity Campaign. Since 2017, they have been major sponsors of white coats for incoming Foster School of Medicine students.
About Dr. Alvarez
Dr. Alvarez graduated with an M.D. from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez in 1981 and completed an internal medicine residency at TTUHSC El Paso in 1984.
Dr. Alvarez is president of Kidney Consultants of El Paso and chief of staff at The Hospitals of Providence East Campus.
About the Foster School of Medicine
In Fall 2009, 40 students were enrolled in the Foster School of Medicine. In Fall 2020, 425 students were enrolled in the Foster School of Medicine.
Currently, there are 612 graduates of the Foster School of Medicine who have become or are on their way to becoming practicing physicians.
Since the medical school opened, 14 Foster School of Medicine alumni have returned to practice in El Paso, and 84 who graduated from the medical school at TTUHSC in Lubbock now practice in El Paso.
In 2008, prior to the opening of the Foster School of Medicine, El Paso County’s average number of direct care physicians per 100,000 people was 75% less than the national average. In an effort to alleviate this severe shortage of physicians in the region, government leaders, community physicians and community supporters worked to establish a four-year medical school in El Paso.