Paying possibility forward

Ken Matasar.

“Medicine should be a profession for those who are most able, not those most able to pay.”  

Paying possibility forward

Navigating medical school was not an easy road for Ken Matasar, MD ’68. It was in his third year as an undergraduate at Columbia University that Ken’s father passed away, creating an undeniable financial hardship for his family. With the support of a full scholarship from UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Matasar returned to his hometown to begin his medical training, but soon faced his own medical diagnosis that threatened to derail his studies.

“During medical school I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which eventually forced me to take a leave of absence,” says Matasar. “I’ll never forget the support I received from the University, helping me work through the challenges associated with my illness and surgery and still graduate on time.”

Matasar certainly didn’t forget. And in honor of that support, he established the Kenneth and Judith Matasar Endowed Scholarship for medical school students, an award created to help other students who encountered financial obstacles while pursuing their degrees.

Funded with cash and qualified charitable distributions, Matasar hopes this scholarship will have a lasting impact on students, much like the one he received more than 50 years ago.

“Working in teaching hospitals, and from my own personal experience, I know how much of a hardship medical school can be for students,” he says. “This is my way of acknowledging everything the University did for me to allow me to have the most satisfying career in medicine.”

In addition to alleviating financial stress, Matasar hopes scholarships like his will open doors for more students who may be intimidated by the cost of pursuing a medical degree.  

“I want to encourage the most capable person to apply to medical school, regardless of their financial standing,” he says. “Medicine should be a profession for those who are most able, not those most able to pay.”  

--Meghan Goff, April 2021

Published May 13, 2021