Supporters, friends, family, faculty, and students of the Division of Radiologic Science gathered in mid-March to celebrate an endowed scholarship designed to support students in the Division of Radiologic Science.

The Division of Radiologic Science at the UNC School of Medicine celebrated the culmination of an endowed scholarship with the goal to support minority students thanks to the generosity of Drs. Jerome Puryear and Latonya Brown-Puryear on March 19, 2017.

The event honored and recognized the Drs. Jerome Puryear and Latonya Brown-Puryear Endowed Scholarship in Radiologic Science, a gift three years in the making.

Joy Renner, division director, said the day was a joyous occasion to celebrate a special gift.

“What a wonderful day where we embrace the concept of giving back and paying it forward,” Renner said.

The Drs. Puryear and Brown-Puryear established the scholarship to support deserving students with preference given to minority candidates. It is intended to serve as an expression of gratitude to all of those who have supported the Puryears in their academic pursuits.

Dr. Stephen Hooper, associate dean and chair of the Department of Allied Health Sciences, said he is grateful for the vision behind this gift, as it will train the next generation of student leaders.

“Thank you for this product—the product of scholarship for our students,” Hooper said. “People understand the pay-it-forward aspect of this. Our students see this, and our students feel this.”

Alumnae Brenda Salas and Meghan Ponder received the award during their time as students. Felicia Branch, a senior in the division, received the award for the 2016-2017 school year.

“It’s extremely encouraging and inspiring to see someone just like me—a woman of color—who went through the same program as I did,” Branch said.

Salas, a first-generation student, said she enjoys going to work and remembers when having a fulfilling career seemed unattainable. “I’m very blessed to have been one of your recipients,” Salas said. “It has meant a lot to me.”

Dr. Robert L. Thorpe, a professor emeritus in the division, lauded Brown-Puryear’s pursuit of excellence. “You have shown a purpose-driven approach to life,” Thorpe said. “The greatest gift anyone can give is to give their own resources to others.”

Hooper noted that gifts allow students to carry less debt into the world of work. “It’s gifts like these that make us great,” he said.

Brown-Puryear said she hopes her scholarship will spread much like a ripple effect across water to other students and families.

“God bless you, and many thanks for your support,” she said.

Brown-Puryear is a native of Whiteville, North Carolina, and graduated from Whiteville High School in 1989. As a UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate, she earned her bachelor’s in radiologic science and was the recipient of the 1993 Faculty Award for Excellence in the division. She worked in the Department of Radiology at UNC Hospitals from 1993-1995 before entering medical school at UNC-CH. She completed her MD in 1999 and accepted a residency in internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While there, she met her husband who was a radiology resident. After finishing their residencies, they relocated to Miami, Florida, where she completed a fellowship in pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, and he completed fellowships in neuroradiology and vascular and interventional radiology. Longing to be closer to family, they relocated with their children to Ohio where they both joined private practices. Prior to establishing the Drs. Jerome Puryear and Latonya Brown-Puryear Endowed Scholarship at UNC-CH, the Puryears endowed minority medical school scholarships in honor and in memory of their loved ones at Dr. Jerome Puryear’s Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University.