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Generosity Goes Both Ways

Have you ever felt inspired watching someone act with compassion? Have you been moved seeing a stranger help a stranger? I have. It reminds me of all that’s best about humanity.

Psychologists call the experience “elevation.” Someone witnesses an act of kindness, and it makes them want to help others and become a better person.

Working with benevolent Jefferson alumni, I’m privileged to have an “elevated” front-row seat for witnessing generosity.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be in the room when a Jefferson scholarship recipient met her benefactor.

For the past three years, Hannah Garrigan has been a Liss Scholar at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, receiving a scholarship established by Amy Liss and her late husband, Henry Liss, MD ’48.

When they met, the connection was undeniable. Sitting side by side on the couch this fall, it was clear how grateful Hannah, 26, and Amy, 88, were for one another.

“I would not be where I am today without people like you,” Hannah told Amy, explaining that the rising cost of medical education and the expense of living in Philadelphia is overwhelming. “The loans don’t always cover what things actually cost—and then there’s the loans themselves.”

Amy understood, and told Hannah that was why she and her husband started the scholarship.

“Henry started Jeff in ’44, and he came to realize how fortunate he and his classmates were in having the GI Bill,” she said. Dr. Liss had served as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy during the war, and was able to attend college and medical school without incurring any costs or loans. He went on to be a pioneer in neurosurgery.

“We realized that today’s medical students don’t have that kind of financial support,” Amy said. And so, the couple established the first Liss Scholarship Fund in 1991, designated for students with demonstrated financial need. A second fund was established in 2009 and earmarked for students with an inclination toward the practice of family medicine. To date, almost $900,000 has been awarded to 70 Liss Scholarship students.

Amy has great hopes for her scholars. “I hope they’re fulfilled in whatever path they choose,” she said, “and  I hope that they will have the same feelings of respect and appreciation for Jefferson that my husband had, and that they will do whatever they are able someday to support the school.”

Generosity goes both ways. A gift fuels positive change for others, and the act of giving uplifts the giver. Generosity makes people better, and it makes better people too. I feel enormously grateful to be part of the Jefferson philanthropic ecosystem.

One of our goals through the Reimagine campaign is to endow 100 scholarships, so that bright students like Hannah will have the opportunity to give back to humanity through the noble profession of medicine.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to create a scholarship, or if you’d just like to share a story about something inspiring you’ve witnessed, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about Hannah, read “Leaving the Comfort Zone” or watch a video of Amy and Hanna meeting each other at

Elizabeth A. Dale, EdD, MPA
Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer
Office of Institutional Advancement


Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about the doors you can open and lives you can change. I’d love to hear from you.