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‘You Heard Me Right’: Meharry Medical College President Surprises Students With $10K Each, No Strings Attached

Dr. James Hildreth
Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth announces gift of $10,000 each to students

*The president of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee announced Monday that all of its 956 students will be gifted $10,000 each, with no strings attached.

Days later, the money began arriving via direct deposit into the accounts of the HBCU’s future doctors, dentists and health researchers, or via check that they could pick up on campus. The funds came from federal COVID relief funds in the CARES Act that was sent to higher learning institutions.

Meharry President Dr. James Hildreth, also an infections disease expert, delivered the news via a video message sent to students just before Thanksgiving. “We’ll gift each of you $10,000 in cash. You heard me right,” he said, only asking that they be “good stewards” of the windfall.

He said that scripture tells him to give thanks in all circumstances and to keep thankfulness in our hearts. He’s thankful for students and the future of healthcare, public health and research that’s entrusted to them.

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Dr. Hildreth helped lead Nashville’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Meharry’s students had already been heavily involved in the pandemic response, staffing the city’s mass COVID testing and vaccination sites. But the money was not so much a surprise compensation for their volunteer efforts, but rather an investment in a future career, as well as an assist in overcoming financial hurdles Black students especially face to become medical professionals.

The gift comes a few months after the announcement of the college receiving a $34 million gift to increase the number of Black physicians nationwide and help medical students pay off student loan debt. Meharry graduates more Black physicians than almost any other U.S. school. Hildreth told the students in his video message, “We felt that there was no better way to begin distributing these funds than by giving to our students who will soon give so much to our world.”

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