Motivated to support Penn’s “Integration of Knowledge” strategic priority, in 2015 John and Mary Anne Gamba established an endowed scholarship fund for students in the Nursing and Healthcare Management Dual Degree Program. Graduates earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton. Incorporating a unique multi-disciplinary approach within a highly specialized curriculum, students gain expertise in innovative patient care and acquire cutting-edge strategies to address issues across the healthcare field. The program provides practical, high-impact, multi-disciplinary experiences with access to a broad array of career paths – from advanced degrees in research and clinical care, to more business-focused aspects of healthcare.
Excerpt from the University of Pennsylvania magazine “Penn Impact 2020 The Power of Philanthropy”:
The Mary Anne Spolar Gamba and John F. Gamba Nursing-Wharton Program Endowed Scholarship Fund is the most recent of three scholarships established by the couple and pays tribute to the many aspects of their shared Penn History. Mary Anne, HUP’65, G’84, received her diploma from the Hospital of Pennsylvania’s nursing program and later achieved a graduate degree in sociology, while John’s, W’61, Wharton education was made possible through a full scholarship. Their Penn pride grew even more with the graduation of their son John Jr., C’92. “We feel very strongly about our obligation to give back to the university that has meant so much to our family,” share the Gambas.
In May 2015, Mary Anne and John celebrated Mary Anne’s 50th HUP reunion, where the graduates to the discontinued HUP program were included with alumni from the School of Nursing under the banner of “Penn Nurses” Since becoming Dean of Nursing in 2014, Antonia Villaruel has continued previous Dean Alef Meleis’ efforts to recognize the HUP program as the beginning of the evolution of nursing education at Penn. They cite this inclusion as a strong motivation to the latest expression of their philanthropy. The couple was further inspired by Dean Villaruel’s prioritizing of the intensive Nursing and Health Care Management Program, which combines clinical courses from the School of Nursing with business and management courses from Wharton. “This seemed to be a natural opportunity for us – as alumni of Nursing and Wharton – to support the new Dean,” they say.
Increasing access to education has long been an important goal for the Gambas. In addition to their own scholarships, they are both actively involved with the Penn Alumni Club of Southwest Florida, which created a scholarship to support a student from the region. They found that fundraising for a good cause formed a powerful bond among the group and can foster lifelong relationships with the University. “Asking Penn alums to come together to support a meaningful Penn priority while meeting the needs of a local student is one key to keeping alumni connected and excited about Penn.”