Meharry Medical College, a Nashville school with a mostly Black population, gave $10,000 for each student before they left for the Thanksgiving holiday. President James E.K. Hildreth proudly announced the gift and said that the students should receive their money before leaving for the break.
The $10,000 cash gift per student comes from the COVID relief funds distributed by the federal government for colleges and universities under the CARES Act. In late 2020, higher education institutions across the country received an estimated $1 billion each.
While other schools used the funding to clear the students' debts or provide free tuition for their most vulnerable students, Meharry Medical College decided to give the money as a cash gift for 956 students.
Be Good Stewards
In a video message to the school community, Hildreth said that the students could use the money in any way they choose, but he suggested investing the $10,000 for their training or education. He told the young adults to become "good stewards" and resist the urge to splurge on Black Friday deals this Thanksgiving.
The university president also thanked the students because they played significant roles in Nashville's coronavirus response as Meharry Medical College operated a COVID testing site since the start of the pandemic. Many of its medical students were also part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the city.
Meharry Medical College has been around for almost 150 years and has been one of the largest producers of Black medical doctors and dentists in the country, after Howard University in Washington, D.C. Hildreth said that its graduates would "soon give so much to our world" so they deserve this cash gift.
A senior at Meharry Medical College, Benson Joseph plans to use part of his cash gift for travel expenses once he applies for residency programs at various hospitals next year. The student, who hails from Florida, hopes to specialize in neurosurgery.
Joseph did not initially believe his classmates as they talked about the cash gift until he watched the school president's video. He said that this has been an early Christmas gift and will help many medical students who have been plunged into a trial by fire in the last two years because of the pandemic.
Graduating with Student Loan Debts
Meanwhile, a 2019 report from the Tennessean indicated that most students of Meharry leave with over $280,000 student debts when they graduate compared to other students from Nashville schools like Vanderbilt University or the University of Tennessee. The report also cited that black colleges and universities historically have exceptionally higher loans.
Since assuming office, President Joe Biden has implemented more than $2 billion student loan forgiveness for at least 30,000 individuals. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona revealed in a tweet that they are "just getting started," hinting that more student loan debts erasures could be underway. Advocates have been working to cancel at least $50,000 per borrower if Biden's Build Better Back proposal receives approval from the House and the Senate.
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