Alumnus Uses Tax-Free IRA Rollover to Help Students
Dr. Howard Hecht (B.S. ’56, M.D. ’58) returned to UIC in 2008 to celebrate his 50th reunion alongside fellow alumni from the College of Medicine. Much had changed over the years; and as he was speaking with a group of current medical students, he became curious as to how greatly tuition had changed. The figured shared by those students shocked him.
“Believe it or not, when I went to school, tuition only cost about $100, maybe $200 a year,” said Dr. Hecht. “I found that the in-state rate for medical students was somewhere around $35,000 a year, and I thought this was an enormous fee for medical school.”
Dr. Hecht never wants a student to miss the opportunities he enjoyed while in school, especially if finances were the barrier. This is what motivated Howard and his wife Gloria to establish the Gloria and Howard Hecht Endowed Scholarship Fund at UIC’s College of Medicine.
Dr. Hecht was married after his first year of medical school in 1955—and two years later, during his senior year, his first child was born. These could have created significant financial strain and taken away from his education.
“Luckily, I was awarded a partial scholarship,” Dr. Hecht said. “It helped put me through school without any debt. Unfortunately, nowadays the debt students come out of school with is quite large.”
UIC prepared him for the real world, he said, by giving him hands-on experience at the Illinois Research Hospital and Cook County Hospital. Dr. Hecht began practicing medicine in 1963, marking the beginning of a successful, 50-year career in orthopedic surgery—a career that has given him joy, fulfillment, and purpose.
“I’ve always felt a certain sense of obligation and gratefulness to UIC,” said Dr. Hecht. “They gave me a terrific education, and it’s because of this institution that I was able to have a very fulfilling career. I just wanted to give something back.”
Dr. Hecht wants to help further the UIC tradition of giving students an excellent education.
“I’m very fortunate to be in a position that allows me to contribute directly from my IRA to fund this scholarship,” said Dr. Hecht. “And my hope is that if other alumni have the means, they will help students attain the same top-notch education that we received.”
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