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Prestigious Fellowship, Emory Support Inspire Michelle Ludwig 05M 05MPH

Michelle Ludwig

A planned gift from Michelle Ludwig 05M 05MPH will support Emory medical students seeking a master’s degree in public health.

Since 1980, Emory University has awarded the prestigious Woodruff Fellowship to graduate-level students of the highest merit, without expectation that the funding will be repaid. Yet Michelle Ludwig 05M 05MPH is making a bequest of $150,000 to do just that. The amount equals Woodruff funding she received as a student at Emory School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health.

"As an oncologist, I have a lot of opportunities to talk about legacy planning and goals of care with patients," says Ludwig, who also teaches medical students as an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. "The fun part is encouraging them to leave a legacy, and it's surprising how many people don't think of it, even though the paperwork is not hard. I was one of them."

Following her own advice, she documented the gift in her will in 2014.

"I made a New Year's resolution to pay back my scholarships," says Ludwig, who also serves as Baylor School of Medicine clerkship director for the radiation oncology department. "The Woodruff Fellowship allowed me to come to Emory, where I learned to be a creative problem solver and compassionate physician who is comfortable treating underserved populations. Robert Woodruff wasn't even in medicine, but this is his legacy."

Her planned gift also honors Emory School of Medicine's creative solutions to the challenges posed by her disability. As a result of spinal meningitis at age two, Ludwig is profoundly deaf.

"Emory went above and beyond," she says. "For the operating room, where I can't lip-read because of surgical masks, the School of Medicine made a prototype wireless device linking a microphone to my hearing aids. In class, I had a stenographer. They didn't bat an eye to invent things like that. Without that support, I would have been apprehensive about medical school and getting a degree in public health."

She hopes her planned gift will inspire creativity in the students who benefit from it.

"My gift is earmarked for an MD/MPH student, and that path helps you think about the public as a whole and be a responsible steward of health care," says Ludwig. "It helps you stand back from day-to-day clinical care and ask how your choices and patterns are affecting the health of the public and what interventions result in the greatest good for the greatest numbers. An MD/MPH helps you think about health care creatively."

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