For Tomorrow's Physicians

With a gift from her estate, a UT Southwestern faculty member looks to pay it forward

The memories of days spent struggling to make real her dreams of becoming a doctor have never faded for Patricia Evans, M.D., Ph.D. Neither has the impact of the anonymous few whose generosity made those dreams possible.

She still has the framed, hand-signed letter from the Hinson-Hazlewood College Student Loan Program congratulating her on paying back the loans that covered her living expenses during medical school.

Dr. Patricia Evans
Patricia Evans, M.D., Ph.D. Casey Holder/Southwestern Medical Foundation

“Reading that today still brings a tear to my eye,” she said, remembering a time in her life when she once left groceries on the checkout counter because she didn’t have money to pay for them.

Dr. Evans attended medical school at Texas Tech University School of Medicine. Student loans and grants – some from the university, some from her church, and some from her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha – made it possible.

“The United Methodist Church scholarship meant the most,” Dr. Evans said. “My family grew up in the Methodist traditions, and I have so many happy memories growing up in St. John's United Methodist Church there in Lubbock.”

She completed a pediatrics residency at Texas Tech, followed by a second residency in pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 2007, after completing several fellowships and other postgraduate training, she returned to UT Southwestern to join the faculty. Today, in addition to serving as Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry, she leads the institution’s residency and clinical programs in neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Remembering the generosity that made her education possible, Dr. Evans wanted to give back. Providing for medical students attending UT Southwestern seemed “so natural.”

She committed a gift from her estate that will create a scholarship endowment at UT Southwestern to support medical students who demonstrate financial need. In recognition of her gift, Dr. Evans was welcomed into The Heritage Society, an organization honoring donors who make a gift from their estate benefiting UT Southwestern or Southwestern Medical Foundation.

Making up the difference

From her earliest years as a young girl growing up in Lubbock, Texas, Dr. Evans wanted to become a physician. She didn’t always have her family’s complete understanding – if only because they were unaccustomed to women pursuing a career as a medical doctor.

“I didn’t know how I was going to pay for medical school,” she said. “My dad died when I was only a few months old, and my incredibly hardworking mom, who raised five children alone on a public-school teacher's salary, certainly didn't have the means to assist me with paying for medical school.”

Dr. Evans raised money by taking on odd jobs, working as a hospital admission clerk, switchboard operator, and pianist at local restaurants. Ultimately, philanthropy made up the difference.

“I was one of only 10 women in a class of 90 men entering Texas Tech’s School of Medicine in 1978,” she said. “Scholarships and loans paid for literally all of my medical school training.”

A gift with meaning

As Chair of the Scholarship Committee at UT Southwestern, Blake Barker, M.D., considers it praiseworthy when current faculty members like Dr. Evans support student scholarships.

“If I could help someone down the road, just like the people whose names I'll never know, who helped me so much back then ... it would be profoundly rewarding.”

“That kind of commitment makes Dr. Evans’ gift even more meaningful,” said Dr. Barker, who is the Medical School’s Associate Dean of Students and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine. “A physician is fully aware of what aspiring medical students need in terms of training support to become the best and brightest in their field.”

For Dr. Evans, the decision to create a scholarship brings the generosity she experienced all those years ago full circle.

“If I could help someone down the road, just like the people whose names I'll never know, who helped me so much back then," she said, “it would be profoundly rewarding. I'm so grateful that UT Southwestern makes it possible.”