JANUARY 3, 2024 — The UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP) has received a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor in honor of Dr. Anita Kurian and Dr. Junda Woo, local physicians whose work was crucial to the public health needs of San Antonio’s residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift will create an endowment that establishes two scholarship funds: The Dr. Anita Kurian Endowed Scholarship and The Dr. Junda Woo Endowed Scholarship.
The scholarship funds will be the college’s first for public health students. Both funds will begin to award scholarships in perpetuity, beginning in fall 2024.
“We are incredibly grateful to our anonymous donor for honoring their colleagues with these two generous gifts,” said Lynne Cossman, dean of the college. “These will be the first endowed scholarships created in HCAP and in our standalone Department of Public Health, in concert with our collaborative UT School of Public Health San Antonio.”
The Dr. Anita Kurian Endowed Scholarship will provide one or more scholarships to a public health student each year. Kurian serves as the deputy director of the Communicable Disease Division for the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kurian appeared at every press conference and briefing to inform the public about the disease’s progress and steps being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. She held countless public forums and launched outreach and engagement programs to help combat COVID-19 as it swept through the city. One example was door-to-door testing, an innovative program that had such support and response that it ended in less than a week, much sooner than anticipated.
“This recognition serves as a validation of the collective efforts of the dedicated people I have had the privilege to work with and fuels my passion for making a positive impact in our community,” said Kurian. “I look forward to being a part of a legacy that promotes learning, growth and opportunities for aspiring public health students at UTSA.”
The Dr. Junda Woo Endowed Scholarship will also provide scholarships to one or more students studying public health. Woo is the medical director and local health authority for the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
Like Kurian, Woo was a vital asset to San Antonio throughout the pandemic. She appeared in interviews and panels, sharing her expertise as a preventive medicine physician, and guided the public on the ins and outs of treatment of the virus. By analyzing COVID-19 data, Woo and her team worked with area hospitals to ensure they had proper equipment and capacity. She also paid close attention to marginalized communities and was an advocate for free COVID testing sites throughout Bexar County.
The endowments honoring Kurian and Woo support Be Bold: A Campaign for Our Future, the largest fundraising effort in UTSA’s history. The campaign, which supports all facets of the university, is directly aligned with UTSA’s strategic plan, A Vision for UTSA.
UTSA’s students come from diverse backgrounds. Seventy percent are eligible for financial aid and 45% will be the first in their families to earn a college degree.
While UTSA strives to keep its tuition and fees as affordable as possible, endowed scholarships reduce the financial burden for deserving students and expand access to education for those who otherwise might not have the opportunity.
“By supporting the education of talented and motivated students, these endowed scholarships will contribute to the development of future leaders, who in turn will use their talents to give back to their communities,” said Cossman.
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