Eberly undergrad overcomes pandemic obstacles with college alumnus' help

July 24, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This past April, Penn State was ranked first in College Magazine’s 2020 list of “Top 10 Schools with the Friendliest Alumni.” Penn State’s alumni community prove time and time again their dedication to helping students succeed.

Graduating as a first-generation student from the Eberly College of Science in 1979, Dr. Judd Moul went on to become the James H. Semans, M.D. Professor of Surgery at the Duke University Medical Center Urologic Surgery Division and the Duke Cancer Institute. Today he and his wife, Ellen Jablonski Moul, have endowed the Moul Scholarship to support first generation students from Pennsylvania who are in the Premedicine program at the Eberly College of Science. The most recent recipient was Tyler Vu.

“I met Tyler in October of 2019 shortly after he had just been announced as the second recipient of our scholarship,” Moul said. “We were at the Eberly College of Science Benefactor and Distinguished Faculty Recognition Dinner and sat at the same table. He is an impressive young man.”

Over the next eight months, Moul and Vu kept in touch by email and Zoom. Not only did they learn they are both first-generation college students in their families, but they also took time to check in on each other as the school year wrapped up. After learning that Vu’s summer plans had been disrupted by COVID-19, Moul decided to reach out to one of his connections, Dr. Suzanne Merrill at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, to see how they could help Vu gain research experience for the summer. Merrill previously had spent six years training with Moul during her residency at Duke University, and a few years later she was hired by the Medical Center. 

Following a Zoom interview, Vu was offered the opportunity to help with a variety of virtual medical research projects in the Medical Center’s Department of Urology for the summer. Moul explained that he was happy to help create a bridge to open up doors with the medical community to assist Vu. “It was a joy to have a small part in helping this student,” he said. 

As a student, Vu recognized that summers are the perfect opportunity to gain experience and shadow hours without the worry of academic workload.

“With the pandemic, many hospitals and doctors’ offices are already restricting the number of their own workers from coming in, so finding shadowing and volunteering opportunities was impossible!” said Vu. “I’m super thankful to Dr. Moul for connecting me with Dr. Merrill at Hershey for a research internship. The alumni community is so receptive and helpful. There are many alumni that have helped me with preparing for my future, I don’t think I could be where I am without them.”

When asked about why he gives back both financially and in time, Moul emphasized how much Penn State has given to both him and his wife, Ellen.

“Ellen and I met her first year when we were both at University Park, and Penn State has been very good to us,” he said. “It's amazing. I've gotten more out of this relationship with Penn State and Tyler than I expected. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to help others, especially during these difficult times of COVID-19.”

Gifts to scholarships will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated August 03, 2020