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Gift exchange

December 17, 2015

Inspired by the generous spirit of their former professor Dr. Linda B. White (inset), the Caseys created a scholarship to support health care students.
Inspired by the generous spirit of their former professor Dr. Linda B. White (inset), the Caseys created a scholarship to support health care students.

Jeremy Jie Casey remembers the first time he met Linda White, M.D. He’d recently enrolled at MSU Denver and had come to the Department of Health Professions to get more details on the Integrative Therapeutic Practices degree program. He was greeted warmly by then-faculty member White and ushered into her office to discuss his interests and goals.

“About 30 minutes into the meeting she told me I needed to be a doctor,” Casey recalled. “I wouldn’t have believed or even dared to dream that could be a possibility were it not for something she saw in me. And after that she encouraged me to pursue medicine every step of the way.”

When Casey was trying to organize an exchange trip to China focused on traditional medicine, for example, White was there. She offered support during the complicated approval process and even volunteered to serve as the accompanying faculty member.

While on the China trip, Casey did more than just learn about traditional medicine; he fell in love with fellow student and now wife Annaliese Stone Casey. White was there for that, too.

Stone Casey aspired to be a doctor of osteopathy, and Casey, with encouragement from White, would ultimately join her on that path. Both of the future doctors received scholarships in their final year at MSU Denver that allowed them to focus on studying for the MCAT and completing medical prerequisites rather than working.

“Without those scholarships our journey would have been so much more difficult,” said Stone Casey. “It would have taken even longer than the average 11-year commitment to become a physician.”

Grateful for that opportunity, the Caseys decided that once they were financially stable, they would fund a scholarship to support students in a similar situation.

They graduated from MSU Denver in 2011 and started medical school at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine shortly thereafter. All the while, they continued to discuss the idea of a scholarship, and thought perhaps they could create one in honor of their mentor and friend White.

When they heard the news that White had been diagnosed with an aggressive, late stage cancer, they knew they couldn’t wait any longer. They reached out to MSU Denver about funding the scholarship.

In 2014, the original endowment was established. To fully fund it from the outset, Casey drew on his own savings and a loan from his parents. He wanted to ensure the scholarship would pay out in its first year so that Linda could see it benefit students. One year later, the Dr. Linda B. White Integrative Health Endowed Scholarship was announced to the public at an event with White and her husband in attendance.

“I was completely flattered,” said White. “They are such remarkable people and they had a big impact on me. I admire them for what they’ve accomplished, and what they had to overcome to reach their goals.”

As it turned out, White had been in touch with the University Advancement office as well. She was considering creating a fund with the exact same goal. In July 2015, White added more than $70,000 from her retirement fund to the scholarship.

“What MSU Denver students do is heroic,” she said. “So many students have such incredible barriers and yet they fight to overcome them. This scholarship is intended to remove one of those barriers. I wanted to support that.”

Together, these three individuals have created a legacy that will transform the lives of students in the Integrative Health Care Program long into the future. Student Mallory O’Connell won the award in 2014, the first of many who will benefit from it.

“I see the scholarship as an extension of Linda’s influence,” Casey said. “We are simply paying her work forward. And if we have an impact on anyone else, it would hopefully be for them to pay it forward in their own way one day.”

The Caseys continue to extend White’s influence in their own work. They graduated from medical school in spring 2015 and are now first-year resident physicians at Central Washington Family Medicine in Ellensburg, Washington. After three years of residency, they will be board certified osteopathic family physicians serving a rural community in need.

It’s been an amazing journey, one that began in an office at MSU Denver, where a generous professor saw potential in a young man that he couldn’t yet see in himself.

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