$50,000 pledge and baby shower bring unexpected gifts to the Keck School of Medicine

Norene Zapanta poses with her newest granddaughter, Grace, and Grace’s big sister Madeline Rose, who recently turned 5. At Grace’s recent baby shower, in lieu of baby gifts, Norene and her daughter Jennifer asked guests to consider donating to the Edward Zapanta Scholarship at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. (Photo courtesy Norene Zapanta.)

By Amy E. Hamaker

It’s been 11 years since Edward Zapanta, a founding member of the Mexican-American Alumni Association and the first Latino member of the USC Board of Trustees, passed away, but his wife, Norene, has remained committed to her husband’s support of the Keck School of Medicine of USC medical education. For her, supporting medical education has become a family affair.

Norene Zapanta recently celebrated the birth of her second granddaughter Grace. However, Grace is daughter Jennifer’s second baby girl, and there wasn’t much that the new mom needed. Rather than forgo a shower altogether, Norene and Jennifer asked guests if, in lieu of baby gifts, they would consider making a donation to the Edward Zapanta Scholarship at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. To date, more than $1,000 has been given. In addition, in June 2012 Norene made a $50,000 pledge over the next five years to honor Edward’s memory.

Edward Zapanta graduated from the Keck School in 1963 and completed his internship and residency in neurological surgery at LAC+USC Medical Center. He passed away in 2002 from complications from a malignant brain tumor related to a stroke.

The scholarship, which provides funds for Latino medical students, was first endowed by a $300,000 gift from the James Irvine Foundation. The first scholarship was awarded in 2002. Over the last five years, there has been a recipient each year, and awards have ranged from $30,000 to $38,000.

“The cost of medical education can really be prohibitive to a lot of minority students, and helping them meets a great need in the surrounding Los Angeles community,” said Norene Zapanta. “Edward was very proud of USC, and the scholarship emphasizes both the medical student and community involvement. This seemed like a nice way to involve my husband in the baby shower, and support scholarship as well.

“I’m wholeheartedly behind making donations in support of medical education,” Zapanta continued. “With the constantly changing landscape of medicine, I think we need to be positioned for the future. We need doctors from all different cultures and walks of life. I would tell anyone who has the ability to support scholarships in whatever way they can.”

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