When Alumni Weekend takes place May 13-15, 2011, an alum from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine will be noticeably absent, and dearly missed: Neal Aquino, MD, who passed away from surgical complications in 2007.
To honor Aquino’s memory and his affinity for his alma mater, his family—Nestor Aquino, MD, a Cincinnati anesthesiologist, his mother, Althea, and sister, Aileen—have seeded a scholarship fund in Neal’s name with $50,000 to assist other aspiring physicians with the cost of attending the UC College of Medicine.
When asked to put into words what the College of Medicine meant to her brother, Aileen Aquino eloquently wrote, "From a young age, Neal Aquino knew he wanted to be a doctor. He made many decisions to get him closer to this goal. Neal always had such a fondness for Cincinnati and never pictured himself living anywhere else. Because of this, he wanted to have the most important foundation of his future career come from the prestigious University of Cincinnati Medical School. The years he spent at UC in medical school were some of the best, most challenging, yet truly rewarding experiences in his life. One of Neal’s wishes would, no doubt, be to help someone else have the opportunity to share in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Aquino’s was indeed a lifetime of great experiences, even before medical school. This brilliant young man began reading at the age of 3, skipped two grades at Covington Latin School and earned double degrees (and two minors) from Xavier University before enrolling in medical school at age 20.
He was among the youngest medical students to ever enroll at UC and the youngest in his class to receive his White Coat, a symbolic welcome to medical school bestowed on all incoming students.
He was also a member of the high IQ society Mensa, an elite group of persons who have attained a score within the upper two percent of the general population.
Aquino strove hard to become a great doctor, but he also had a zest for life and great balance with his other interests.
He traveled extensively—to over 20 countries—loved exotic foods, collected eclectic art, had a fantastic sense of humor, loved interacting with people and enjoyed many sports, a few of which included scuba diving, tennis, golf, biking and running.
His favorite race was Cincinnati’s Thanksgiving Day Race, which his family and friends continue to participate in as a tribute to Aquino’s vibrant personality. After his 2001 graduation from medical school, he completed his emergency medicine residency at Summa Health System Akron, Ohio and then returned to his beloved Cincinnati to work in emergency departments at Mercy Health Systems and Good Samaritan Hospital.
Aquino made such an impact at Summa, that the emergency department there established the Neal Aquino Intern Book Fund to help students purchase costly textbooks. The ER staff at Mercy Western Hills created a plaque and a mural made up of stories and photos of him.
This way, they are able to be inspired by Aquino and feel like he is still there with them.
The "Dr. Neal J. Aquino Class of 2001 Memorial Scholarship”, says his father, is another symbolic and lasting way to honor his son’s choice of medical schools.
"Neal was so proud to be at UC and with all of the people he was associated with there,” he adds.
While some contributions have already come in from the class of 2001 and the UC Health department of emergency medicine, his family hopes the fund will grow to be self-sustaining, with the first scholarship to be awarded this year.
"Our wish is to keep Neal’s memory alive by helping exceptional students reach their full potential and, like Neal, achieve their goals,” he says.
For more information on how to contribute contact Dawn Perrin, director of development/educational initiatives, at (513) 558-2304 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.