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Class of 2023 adds to Heather Skonier-Baer Endowment, enhances financial guardrail for students

Two years after the death of Penn State Health nurse Heather Skonier-Baer, medical and physician assistant students who face unexpected financial challenges are receiving timely support from the student emergency assistance endowment created in her memory.

The College of Medicine Class of 2023 chose the Heather Skonier-Baer Endowment as the beneficiary of their class gift, adding $13,000 to the endowment principal.

“With our class gift we wanted to address the financial strain that many students feel, especially when a situation arises that can threaten to derail a medical career,” said Dr. Ashley Wong, member of the Class of 2023.

Wong said her class’s experience earning medical degrees during a global pandemic meant they didn’t have the social and other events that would have tapped their funds. She said they wanted to direct the funds to something meaningful that would make a difference for others. They also saw this gift as a way to remember their classmate, Cyril “Simo” Tankam, who died in a drowning accident in his home country of Cameroon in December 2022.

“Simo truly embodied the We Are spirit,” Wong said. “By supporting the Heather Skonier-Baer Endowment, we hope future students will know the college community has their back if a crisis arises.”

The Heather Skonier-Baer Endowment was originally established with generous contributions from faculty and staff. These funds were invested, and each year a portion of the endowment’s investment return will be spent to support students in need. Since the endowment activated in spring 2022, a few students have already received crucial monetary support to help them weather unexpected financial hardships that threatened their ability to continue their education.

To join the faculty and staff who established the fund and the Class of 2023 in supporting students facing extraordinary financial challenges, visit here.

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