Scholarship to honor memory of slain emergency medicine alumna

The Tamara O’Neal MD Scholarship Fund, established by a dozen fellow UIC College of Medicine alumni, will help support medical students and will serve to honor O’Neal, who was a victim of gun violence.

Dr. Tamara O’Neal was a 2014 UIC College of Medicine graduate and a 2017 emergency medicine resident graduate. She was working as an emergency room physician at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, where she also volunteered her time to teach clinical residents, before she was shot and killed there on Nov. 19.

Several of her UIC classmates, now alumni working and teaching across the country, have banded together to raise funds to create the Tamara E. O’Neal Scholarship Fund in order to help make education more affordable for University of Illinois students and to honor the memory of Dr. Tamara E. O’Neal. So far, the group has raised more than $68,000 and hopes to increase that amount so that they can create an endowed, ongoing scholarship.

Chisalu Nchekwube, now a family medicine resident at Advocate Christ in Oak Lawn, was one of O’Neal’s closest friends in med school.

“Tamara made sure that our group of friends continued to get together even after we all graduated and were all over the country doing our residencies,” Nchekwube said. “Our group became like a family and Tamara was the matriarch, the glue that held us together.”

The scholarship will offer support to a first-year medical student in the Urban Health Program. If funding allows, it will also offer scholarship support to a fourth-year medical student who will complete his or her residency in emergency medicine.

The Urban Health Program has a proven track record of developing leaders who will advance health equity. On all four University of Illinois College of Medicine sites, it offers a variety of programs and services for students who are underrepresented in medicine. O’Neal was a participant in the Urban Health Program’s post-baccalaureate and summer pre-matriculation programs.

“Tamara leaves behind a legacy of promoting diversity in medical education and a passion for serving underserved communities,” Nchekwube said. “Tamara made it her mission to expose underrepresented minority students to medicine as a potential career, and as a way to load the pipeline with minority physicians who would go on to treat patients of color.”

To make a donation, go to the UIC College of Medicine giving page at and select the drop-down menu for “Select Class or Alumni Scholarship Fund” and scroll down to the Tamara O’Neal MD Scholarship Fund.

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