Medical Scholarship Extends Legacy of Military Couple
During the decade that her husband Alan Kirschenmann battled lymphoma, Sandy Kirschenmann gained a great appreciation for medicine and its practitioners. "If I could do anything, I would try to cure something like this," he told her.
After his passing at age 54, Sandy began evaluating private research universities where veterans are a valued and vital part of the community. Alan had been a Navy ship's policeman and supply accountant, she an Army dietitian.
"As a lifelong educator, I believe in private research universities that promote the insatiable desire for knowledge, which leads to breakthroughs," she says. "At the Emory School of Medicine, with its focus on education, research, and patient care, I found the right way to honor Alan through my estate—by creating a scholarship for a deserving medical student."
Sandra G. Kirschenmann Medical Scholarships will be awarded with preference given to veterans or children of veterans.
"I would love to see deserving students receive this scholarship to get where they want to go," she says. "When you transition to civilian life after military service, you don't always find your next step easily. This scholarship will help."
Sandy and Alan lived in northern California, where for generations, his family grew grapes for various wineries. Alan kept that going. "Farmers are grounded," Sandy says. "I miss him every day. Alan had a wonderful sense of humor at the most dire times, and together we understood that life goes forward, not back." In agriculture, education, and life, they believed that "you make the best of what you learn along the way," and visionary decisions now create a brighter future.
After Alan's passing in 2004, and retiring from her work as associate vice provost and executive director of Drexel University Sacramento, Sandy moved to Georgia to be close to her sister and brother-in-law. As part of her estate planning, she continued to explore funding a medical scholarship. She kept finding her way to private universities.
"The university is the finest institution for learning disparate points of view, becoming a more complete person, and exploring what it means to be human," she says. "It is essential—more than anything in American life—to figuring out who you are."
Her introduction to Emory came through the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Digging into Emory's history and roots, she was impressed by the university's longevity and responsiveness.
"I am just so enthralled by Emory's organization," she says. "It's wonderful. How many hospitals or publicly funded colleges have persisted since 1836? If you want your financial gift to serve as an investment in the future, you must be interested in the endurance of the institution."
She also values Emory's relationship with those who give.
"Private research institutions like Emory are so responsive to alumni, donors, and trustees because they do not have public funding to rely on," she says. "That creates a relationship that I was looking for as a donor."