Roth Scholarship Honors Alumna Known for Cura Personalis

By Rosemarie Martini (S’15)

The inaugural Dr. Katy Roth Scholarship at Georgetown University School of Medicine has been awarded to Lindsey Hastings- Spaine (M’19), a first-generation medical student whose parents immigrated to Maryland from Sierra Leone.

The scholarship is named in memory of Katharine “Katy” Kellond Roth (M’01), a physician and alumna with strong ties to Georgetown beyond her MD. Within three days in May 2001, Katy graduated from the School of Medicine, her husband Chris Weston graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, and their first son, Nicholas, was born at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Katy died in 2014 and in honor of her passion for service and connection to Georgetown, her mother, Jane R. Roth, established a scholarship for School of Medicine students from the Washington, D.C. area who are first in their families to attend medical school.

“Katy’s resilience and commitment to her medical career despite serious health issues are inspiring to me, and I am honored to be the first to receive her scholarship,” Hastings-Spaine says.

Lessons learned as a student and patient
Katy Roth and Alessandra RossKaty Roth (M’01) (right) with her classmate and friend Alessandra Ross (C’97, M’01)

Katy’s experiences as a patient during her years at the School of Medicine taught her as much about being a doctor as her classroom lessons. In her second year, she was stricken with encephalitis and bedridden for nearly an entire semester. Her mother, a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia, spent most of her time in Washington with Katy, retrieving daily class notes from a scribe, helping her study, and sitting with her during exams.

Jane attributes her daughter’s graduation from Georgetown to the unique and supportive culture at the medical school.

“During exams, accommodations were made for room light and dyslexia; also a place to lie down and rest a few minutes if necessary,” her mother says. “Katy would not have been able to finish at any other medical school.”

Katy often received treatment at Georgetown from her fellow classmates and professors. This care and support for both her and her family made a lasting impression on Katy. As a practicing physician, she paid special attention to the needs of patients’ families as well as the needs of the individuals she treated.

“An angel of cura personalis

Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, Roth’s faculty mentor and later her physician, fondly recalls her tenacity and spirit. “Determination, innovation, and connection were typical of Katy Roth. She possessed an unusual ability to inspire and motivate every patient she treated,” he says.

In her work as a hospice and palliative care physician, Roth was known for her gregarious personality, her commitment to Georgetown’s ideal of cura personalis, and her passion for connecting with her patients as people. She followed a calling to help underserved populations in Washington, D.C. and be a resource beyond medical care, and she accomplished those goals during her 11 years of practice.

Katy passed away on December 15, 2014, after a long struggle with seizure disorder and Behcet’s disease.

“We lost an angel of cura personalis when we lost Katy—way too soon for Georgetown, for her patients, and for her family,” says Mitchell.

Supporting physicians of the future

Award recipient Hastings-Spaine was inspired to study medicine after losing a family member to sickle cell disease, she says.

Hastings-Spaine began her journey at the School of Medicine with the GEMS program in 2015. Currently, she is a Health Justice Scholar and president of the Student National Medical Association. She plans to practice emergency medicine.

Like Roth, Hastings-Spaine strongly believes in the importance of caring for the whole person. “Being a doctor is more than numbers and statistics,” she says. “I want to become someone the patient can trust—and Georgetown provides the tools for me to become the best physician I can be.”