School of Medicine alumna honors her mother with scholarship


Dr. Jacquelyn and Mr. Rick Watson have established a second endowed scholarship at the Wayne State University School of Medicine to help lighten the financial burden of medical students.

“The WSU School of Medicine has been the catalyst of my career in medicine as a radiation oncologist,” said class of 1983 alumna Dr. Jacquelyn R. Watson. “I have always felt that when I graduated from the School of Medicine I had much more ‘hands on’ experience during my clinical rotations as a medical student than medical students at other universities.”

Dr. Watson continued, “I am forever indebted to the School of Medicine for giving me the educational opportunity that allowed me to fulfill my dream to become a physician, and my husband Rick and I are honored to help support future generations.”

The newly established Thelma Elizabeth Robertson Clark Endowed Scholarship in the School of Medicine honors Dr. Watson’s mother, Thelma Clark, who recently passed away at age 93. Thelma was a lifetime advocate of promoting education to enable others to succeed. “Establishing a scholarship in her name is the perfect way to give tribute to her life and her career in education,” said Dr. Watson.

Thelma Clark (nee Robertson) came from humble beginnings. The next to youngest of nine children, she grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the Great Depression. Though times were difficult, Thelma’s parents were both college educated, and they instilled in their children the value of education.

Coming from a large family with a tradition of the older siblings supporting the younger ones, Thelma’s older brother Philip, a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, sent money to Thelma to help pay for her education at Western Michigan University. With the extra financial support, Thelma received a bachelor’s degree in English and education in 1944.

For the next 60 years, Thelma volunteered to be on various scholarship committees in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she taught elementary school for almost 40 years. “My mother had such a positive impact on society. It is not unusual for me to run into one of her former students who will tell me what a difference my mother made in his or her life,” said Dr. Watson.

Thelma’s contagious enthusiasm for learning and serving the community was inspiring and had a profound impact on Dr. Watson. Empowered by the many strong female role models in her family, Dr. Watson has excelled in her own education, training and career. “Helping future generations succeed was my mother’s life work, and this scholarship will honor that legacy,” said Dr. Watson, “making a lasting impact not only at WSU, but also in Michigan and in the greater world as WSU School of Medicine trainees pursue their careers.”

Dr. and Mr. Watson established their first endowed scholarship in 2012, and they are happy to be able to create a second scholarship. “I’d like to encourage my fellow alumni to consider giving to the school,” said Dr. Watson. “The generosity of others before us has helped us succeed. We can pay it forward to enable the next generation to succeed!”

(July 12, 2017)

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