Listening to Samantha “Sam” Giugliano Robin and Dr. Ted Kerner talk with one another, you would think they have known each other for the better part of a decade. In fact, they met less than three years ago, when Sam received an Alumni Loyalty Fund scholarship from Dr. Kerner (BS ’81 MD ’85) and his wife Lisa (BS Pharm ’83).
Now Sam is preparing to graduate from the UNC School of Medicine and move to Denver for an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency at the University of Colorado. Dr. Kerner is quick to point out that the residency Sam will be entering is a prestigious and demanding one.
This relationship with a UNC School of Medicine alumnus who believes in her is what makes the Alumni Loyalty Fund scholarship so meaningful to Sam. “It is not just a check. It is knowing that Dr. and Mrs. Kerner care about my education. It is knowing that Dr. Kerner enjoyed his time at UNC so much that he wanted to give back. They supported me before they even knew my potential,” says Sam.
Dr. Kerner describes his investment in students like Sam as “the best return on investment you can make.” He is inspired to be a donor as part of his loyalty to UNC—being a lifelong North Carolinian who attended UNC undergraduate and medical school. In short, he and his wife want to pay it forward. He adds that the Loyalty Fund is also an incredible opportunity to meet fascinating people and be part of a larger community—a community that “supports and validates who we are and what we do” as alumni who give back.
This culture and sense of community is what will make Sam’s walk across the graduation stage this May bittersweet. Although a native of New Jersey, UNC has become the place that feels most like home. It feels like home because of the passionate educators, excellence in patient care, and spirit of innovation. “It is why one day I hope to be back,” adds Sam.
The Alumni Loyalty Fund scholarship enabled Sam to pursue the medical specialty that she was most interested in, as she will graduate medical school without the financial obligations that can often make future salary a critical concern when identifying residencies. At the same time, the passion, community, and excellence that the Loyalty Fund exemplifies is likely to draw Sam back to UNC; she hopes to return as a member of the teaching faculty. Dr. Kerner, a member of the National Loyalty Fund Committee himself, reminds Sam that she will be an alumna as soon as she walks across the stage, and it is never too soon for her to start paying it forward, too.