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Profiles in Giving

Why Wait?

A family supports the future of hopeful doctors

Michael Och, M57, A81P, understands the challenges many students face when it comes to getting a medical education. Och wanted to be a doctor since the age of 11, “And my parents appreciated that, but we didn’t have any money.”

The family’s financial situation meant that Och had to live at home in Roxbury and apply for scholarships. “I went to college and medical school never having lived on campus.” Unlike students in dorms who could take full advantage of college life, Och spent his days taking trains to school, attending classes, then traveling back to do homework into the wee hours.

Yet Och remains grateful for his experience at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) as well as for the assistance he received that allowed him to finish medical school debt free. Inspired to help others as he once benefited, Och and his family are giving $500,000 to create the Michael Och, M.D., M57 Family Scholarship. The family members participating are Och’s son Jonathan Och, A81, and his wife, Rita Halbright, J84; son Daniel Och and his wife, Jane; and daughter Susan Och and her husband, Brian Kalver. Their gift, which will help medical students in need, will be matched dollar for dollar through the Financial Aid Initiative.

Och, now retired, remembers his time at TUSM fondly. “I enjoyed going on house calls in my senior year to poor families all around,” he says. “At Tufts there was always an emphasis on general practice.” Initially interested in pediatrics, he was inspired to specialize in radiology by an elective class with Carroll Berman, M.D., a founding member of the Society for Pediatric Radiology.

After residency, Och did a two-year stint as a radiologist at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Quantico, Virginia, to fulfill his military service under the Berry Plan. He went on to practice radiology and teach residents for 43 years at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Along with their desire to help young people become physicians, Och and his family hope that their gift might inspire others to do the same. “I said to my kids, ‘Why wait?’ There are still plenty of students going to TUSM who could use scholarship assistance. And if someone else reads about this, and decides to do a similar thing, it would be very gratifying.”