Sarah Stewart Scholarship at the Georgetown University School of Medicine

Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Stewart, MD, PhD, was a Mexican-American researcher who pioneered the field of viral oncology. She was also the first woman to graduate with a Doctorate of Medicine from Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM) in 1949. 

During her time working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with Dr. Bernice Eddy, she discovered and successfully grew the cancer-causing virus, which now bears their name (the SE polyomavirus). 

Stewart and Eddy were nominated twice for the Nobel Prize, and in 1965 Stewart was presented the Federal Women’s Award by President Lyndon B. Johnson for her contributions in the field of cancer research. Dr. Stewart returned to Georgetown to teach in 1971 as a full time professor in the department of pathology, where she was known to always have students in the lab and supported education for medical research. 

Despite gender discrimination and discouragement from studying oncogenic virus, Stewart is now celebrated for her devotion and enthusiasm as one of the most instrumental cancer researchers of her time. She retired to New Smyrna Beach, Florida where she ironically died of the same disease that she spent her life studying. 

This scholarship commemorates the trailblazing achievements and research accomplishments of Dr. Sarah Stewart by selecting incoming GUSOM students who demonstrate great potential for academic and research contributions, as well as a commitment to the ongoing study of the humane practice of medicine, diversity in medicine, and  health equity.

In the United States today, a person’s ability to reach their full health potential is greatly determined by a broad range of social, economic and environmental factors that can affect their access to quality health care.  This leads to a gradient that results in systemic gap in health equity. Research has shown that addressing these factors can help improve health in all populations, and diversifying the healthcare workforce is also a necessary step to increase access and reduce health disparities. 

Scholarship Award:

This scholarship will provide each Stewart Scholar an award which represents up to full tuition and fees for a maximum of 4 years of medical education.  The amount to be awarded for the Stewart Scholar’s second-, third- and fourth-year students will be determined annually based upon the prevailing tuition and fee rate. This award is for academic merit and, as such, is subject to sustained academic performance as determined by the Academic Dean. 

The Sarah Stewart Scholarships are awarded to students with demonstrated financial needs whose background or experience, when evaluated holistically, suggests that they are uniquely able to contribute to the diversity of the community at the Georgetown School of Medicine. Factors which may be considered include a student’s socioeconomic, cultural and/or family background (i.e., first generation or first in their family to attend college, parents’ level of education and income, region of residence, high school attended), personal experiences and challenges, and/or demonstrated ability to develop and support diversity and cultural understanding.

All students* are encouraged to apply, including students who come from backgrounds underrepresented in the health professions, and students who are committed to advancing opportunities for populations who lack equitable access to health care and/or committed to serving the underserved. 

Required Criteria for Scholarship:

  • First year, matriculating student to Georgetown School of Medicine;
  • Demonstrated financial need/economic hardship;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural understanding in medicine and medical education; and
  • Demonstrated commitment to service of underserved populations who lack equitable access to health care and/or service to underserved communities in the United States

Other Considerations May Include:

  • Applicant may claim permanent residence in the District of Columbia, but this is not required for candidacy.
  • Applicant may identify as underrepresented in medicine, which may include a student’s socioeconomic, cultural and/or family background, personal experiences and challenges

*Note: International students are not eligible to apply for the Sarah Stewart Scholarship.

Sarah Stewart Scholars Commitments 

If the successful candidates accept the Dr. Sarah Stewart Scholarship Award, they will commit to the following engagements with GUSOM upon accepting the scholarship:

  • Serve at least a 1 year term on Council on Diversity Affairs (CODA) with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI)
  • Serve as an Office of Admissions Student Ambassador for recruitment of new students.
  • Attend annual ODI Build & Belong Dinner (or related outreach activities) before Second Look Day and/or serve on Student Panel organized by the Office of Admissions for Second Look Day.
  • Participate on the student leadership panel during M1 Orientation the following year.