School of Medicine student receives ‘life-changing’ scholarship

Amanda Wibben, MTS (M’26) is the recipient of the 2023-24 Lawrence Dean Scholarship, awarded each year to a rising second-year medical student who has achieved academic success while exemplifying Georgetown’s values. The scholarship covers the awardee’s full medical school tuition and fees for their second, third, and fourth years. 

A passion for medicine and Jesuit values

Wibben became interested in medical school after her father underwent surgeries and physical therapy after a bike accident. Eager to learn more about his treatment, Wibben shadowed a local physical therapist and spinal surgeon. The experience motivated her to take pre-med classes as a college student enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution. Inspired by Holy Cross’ Jesuit approach to education and service, Wibben also volunteered at a hospital and women’s home near campus.

“By my junior year, I knew I wanted to go to medical school, but I also realized I wanted to take some time to explore other interests before committing my life to medicine,” she said. In her first year after graduation, Wibben taught English full-time in India via a Fulbright scholarship and volunteered at a local child care center.

“My time in India put into perspective the privilege I had,” she said. “My mom immigrated to the United States from Cuba, and I kept thinking about the opportunities I was given because they left.” Wibben returned to the U.S. at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and recalls the inequities in global health that she witnessed as hospitals in India ran out of oxygen for their patients with COVID and friends told her of limited vaccine options.

She also pursued an interest in religion at Harvard Divinity School while working nights in a COVID lab.

“I saw in India how religion can be such a part of life, and I am grateful for the time I had to think about how religion and global experiences can intersect with policy during my master’s program,” she said. Wibben, who describes herself as not particularly religious, wanted to attend a Jesuit medical school because of its focus on service and care for the local community.

A ‘life-changing’ scholarship

In her first year at Georgetown, Wibben engaged in several service-based activities, such as working with refugee physicians in the Washington, DC, area in a community-based learning course. She became a founding medical student member of the DMV Refugee Physician Advocacy Coalition, which aims to change policies that prevent international medical graduates, especially refugees, from practicing in the U.S. Wibben also worked as a patient navigator,  helping local patients maneuver through the U.S. health care system and manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. She also collaborated with law school faculty to research the global history of Catholic health services through the Georgetown University Global Health Institute Student Fellows Program.

The Lawrence Dean Scholarship will allow Wibben to quickly establish a career in global health, typically a difficult path to pursue immediately following medical school, given the need to cover international travel costs and engage in pro bono work, Wibben says. Instead of feeling pressure to pay off medical school student loans, she will be able to apply to residency programs with international service opportunities and live abroad for an extended period of time to dedicate herself to local communities.

“I can’t even describe how life-changing this scholarship is to receive,” she said. “I hope to honor the legacy of Lawrence Dean by holding cura personalis close to my heart when serving others in my future as a physician.”

Lawrence Dean was a student in Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Class of 1973 who died before his graduation. In 1976, Walter Bonner, a close personal friend of the Dean family, established the scholarship at the School of Medicine in Dean’s honor.

Read more about Lawrence Dean Scholarship winner Amanda Wibben, MTS (M’26).

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