Ralph de Vere White, who steps down this week after a 32-year career at UC Davis Health System, has been honored with an educational endowment in his name.
The Ralph de Vere White Endowed Education Fund was created by his wife, Antoinette, for the express purpose of training the next generation of medical professionals who will continue the fight against cancer.
“I wanted to do something that would honor Ralph and how much he loves and has given to cancer research and the community,” she said.
With gifts from a number of contributors, including two large gifts from anonymous donors, Antoinette de Vere White has raised more than $150,000 and hopes to reach a target of $200,000.
De Vere White said he knew nothing of the fund. He said the surprise announcement at his retirement party on June 22 left him “speechless.”
“I am forever grateful for everyone who has made this opportunity possible,” he said.
Specifically, the fund will be used to support undergraduate and high school students who plan to participate in cancer research training programs or who require funds to conduct summer research, attend conferences or take admissions exams.
The fund will only be available to students who have demonstrated a special aptitude for the study of cancer science. It also will give special preference to individuals who historically have been underrepresented in medicine and science, including those of marginalized ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“What’s so nice about this is that it marries my commitment to helping eliminate cancer health disparities through education with my wife Antoinette’s commitment to helping Sacramento’s homeless, who are also a disadvantaged population,” de Vere White said.
The longtime Cancer Center director has strived to advance educational opportunities for students. In 2001, he and other researchers at the center invited several students from Mira Loma High School to intern with them.
“They worked in the labs and they did a fantastic job with us,” de Vere White said. “I had them a couple of years and then they went off and won prizes. That experience inspired me to participate in similar programs with both high school and college students.”
Antoinette de Vere White, who works with the local non-profit Loaves and Fishes, a Sacramento homeless advocacy and support organization, said she is very familiar with the challenges many groups face in becoming successful.
“People struggle to get a roof over their heads, let alone get to college,” she said. “Starting over all by yourself, it’s a tough life, and much tougher when you have no money.”
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