ESASID Scholarship: A legacy of giving
In 2002, Drs. Jitendra M. and Saryu J. Desai established the Endowment for South Asian Students of Indian Descent (ESASID) scholarship.
This award is available each year for a South Asian student of Indian descent enrolled full time in his or her second, third or fourth year at an accredited Pennsylvania medical school. Applicants must be residents of Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
“We are first generation, and we are very fortunate,” Dr. Jitendra Desai said. “We made all of our money here in America, so I thought it was my duty to help people in this area.”
Drs. Desai arrived in the United States from India in 1969. After completing residency training in Pittsburgh, they stayed there and built their careers. They continued practicing in Pittsburgh until they both retired in 2010.
Dr. Jitendra Desai is passionate about helping South Asian medical students of Indian descent. He believes there is a misconception that this demographic of students in medicine do not need assistance.
“Most people think Indians who come here are professionals and well-established, which is true – I believe 80 percent are like that,” he said. “In Pennsylvania, especially in larger cities, there are Indians who are not as fortunate as we are. As a result, they are at a lower level of financial condition. Very often, they are single parents doing menial work. They may have small mom and pop shops. Their kids are very bright, but they need some sort of financial assistance.”
During his leadership positions within the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the American Medical Association, Dr. Jitendra Desai traveled across Pennsylvania.
“I met quite a few people, and especially when I met Indian physicians, I asked them the same questions,” he said. “But when you are a physician, you may not socialize with non-professionals.”
He knew of students in need, but many of his peers were skeptical. “It gave me an idea of that, maybe there are kids who are really bright, and they don’t have the resources,” he said.
As the 2004 PAMED president, Dr. Jitendra Desai also traveled to surrounding states – New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Massachusetts. He again met with Indian physicians, and there was recognition of medical students in need.
“This gave me incentive – there is no particular vehicle for medical students of Indian descent,” he said. “I wanted it to be at the local level – Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”
Dr. Jitendra Desai has found giving to Indian medical students from the local area to be rewarding.
“This new generation of students who are coming who are bright who get help for their education, they are grateful for whatever help you can give,” he said. “These students may stay in their area – in New Jersey or different parts of Pennsylvania. And they will help not only American patients, but also Indian patients. The good part is these people may stay here.”
He hopes that when they are established in their careers, these future physicians will pay it forward.
“Hopefully, they will remember who helped them,” Dr. Jitendra Desai said. “Maybe they will continue to give – give to this scholarship or start their own scholarship. Maybe this new generation of young physicians will continue this type of giving.”
Dr. Jitendra Desai encourages his fellow physicians who have found success to help others. His advice to those considering a donation to the next generation is to the point but sincere.
“Give generously – simple, one answer,” he said. “You are blessed. Most of the physicians who are working here, who have studied and practiced here, are doing well. They have enough money for their family and the next generation. To them I say, ‘you are here. You made your fortune here. Help people here in America.’”
Are you interested in establishing a scholarship fund with the Foundation? Contributing to an existing scholarship is another option for philanthropy within Student Financial Services. Your generosity can make an impact on the future of medicine. Contact Lori Storm, manager of philanthropy and hospital relations, at (717) 558-7813 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.