DR. GATOR: Paying it Forward
‘Paying it Forward’: Jason Rosenberg Hopes to Inspire Alumni Involvement
By Karen Dooley
Jason Rosenberg, MD ’95, loves the University of Florida. You can see it in his eyes when he’s walking through campus, and you can hear it in his voice when he talks about his plans to help make it a better and stronger university.
“As Gators, we love this place. We love our memories,” Rosenberg said. “A great university engenders that feeling in its alumni.”
To understand his affinity for the university, just imagine all of Rosenberg’s UF diplomas representing his bachelor’s, master’s and medical degrees framed in his office. But there’s more: He also completed his surgical residency in Gainesville, and after completing a fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, he served for a short time as a faculty member at the College of Medicine. Rosenberg is as UF as Gatorade on a hot day in The Swamp.
“I make a living every day because of the University of Florida and the College of Medicine,” explained Rosenberg, a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast cancer reconstruction. “And it’s not just a living. It’s a positive impact on people’s lives. My patients remind me of that every day.”
It’s Rosenberg’s sense of appreciation for the university and the college that keeps him involved with the alumni association and the medical alumni board of directors, of which he recently took over as president. And he has big plans for his tenure as president.
“I would like to see a culture of ‘pay it forward’ take over at the College of Medicine,” Rosenberg said. “So many of us who went through medical school have wonderful memories and owe our careers to this college. Wouldn’t it be great if we can make this an even better place for the next generation of students? Then we’ve really done something.”
Rosenberg said that while president of the alumni board, he will focus on articulating a vision for a new, modern medical education building.
“We are committed to making it a reality,” he said. “We need 100 alumni to join us in the Alumni Challenge — to pledge $25,000 to get this building off the ground. That’s $5,000 a year for five years.”
So far, Rosenberg’s challenge has been met by 16 alums as well as one group commitment from the class of 1963.
“If we can get this done, it would create a dramatic impact on our current students,” he said. “They would see us commit $2.5 million to making things better for them. Then they will follow our example and want to do the same for the next generation of medical students.”
Rosenberg added that he also plans to help medical alumni feel more connected to the university.
“I encourage them to join the UF Alumni Association,” he said. “I think the university needs to recognize medical school graduates as not just College of Medicine alumni but also as UF alumni.
“I also want the medical alumni board to focus on current medical students and help them feel connected to the university and the community,” Rosenberg continued. “Medical students should take part in international medical trips, community outreach projects and other service opportunities. And they should realize that the medical alumni association provides financial support for these opportunities.”
As the first member of his family to attend college, Rosenberg never underestimates the value of education. He and his wife, Denise, were among the first to jump on board with the Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which provides direct financial assistance to students who come from families with an income below an established level and whose parents did not go to college. The first group of scholars will graduate this year, and Rosenberg has his sights set on its potential at the College of Medicine.
“My wife and I love this idea,” Rosenberg said. “In just four years, these families now go from hoping their children will go to college, to expecting it. That is a seismic shift.
“And I’d like to see the College of Medicine take it to the next level,” Rosenberg said. “Why can’t we provide scholarships to the Florida Opportunities Scholars for medical school at UF? We need to be the first professional college on this campus to create that opportunity.
“Every university in the state wants its own medical school,” he continued. “It brings prestige to a university, and to be able to claim that ours is the best in Florida is fantastic. But now, I want to see our alumni help to make it better.
“It’s easy to do if you love this place.”
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