February 10, 2017 - The inaugural Dr. Katy Roth Scholarship at Georgetown University School of Medicine has been awarded to Lindsey Hastings-Spaine (SOM'19), a first-generation medical student whose parents immigrated to Maryland from Sierra Leone prior to its civil war.
The scholarship is named in memory of Katharine "Katy" Kellond Roth (SOM'01), a physician and alumna with strong ties to Georgetown beyond her MD.
Within three days in May 2001, Roth graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine, her husband Chris Weston graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and their first son, Nicholas, was born at Georgetown University Hospital.
Roth 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 DC area who are the first in their families to attend medical school.
“Katy's resilience and commitment to her medical career despite serious health issues is an inspiration to me, and I am honored to be the first to receive her scholarship,” Hastings-Spaine said.
Lessons learned as a student and patient
Roth’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. Roth’s mother, a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia, spent most of her time in Washington with Roth, retrieving daily class notes from a scribe, helping her study and sitting with her during exams.
Jane Roth attributed her daughter’s graduation from Georgetown to the unique and supportive nature of the School of Medicine. “For her medical school exams, accommodations were made for room light and dyslexia; also a place to lie down and rest a few minutes if necessary,” her mother said. “Katy would not have been able to finish at any other medical school.”
Roth often received treatment at Georgetown from her fellow classmates and professors. The care and support she and her family received made a lasting impression, and she was inspired, as a doctor, to support her patients’ families as well as the individuals she treated.
“An Angel of Cura Personalis”
As her faculty mentor and, later, physician Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, dean for medical education at the School of Medicine, fondly recalled Katy’s 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 said.
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 (“care of the whole person”) and her passion for connecting with her patients as people. She felt that she had a calling to help underserved populations in Washington, DC, and to be a resource beyond medical care, and she accomplished those goals during her 11 years of practice
But, sadly, Katy Roth passed away on December 15, 2014, after a long struggle with seizure disorder and Behcet’s syndrome.
“We lost an angel of cura personalis when we lost Katy—way too soon for Georgetown, for her patients and for her family," said Mitchell.
Supporting Physicians of the Future
After seeing a family member struggle with sickle cell anemia, Hastings-Spaine was drawn to pursue a career in medicine. “Losing a family member to sickle cell disease served as the catalyst in my decision to pursue a career in the medical field,” she said.
Hastings-Spaine began her journey at the School of Medicine with the GEMS program in 2015. Currently, she is a Health Justice Scholars and president of the Student National Medical Association. Her goal is to become an emergency room physician.
Like Roth, Hastings-Spaine strongly believes in the need to provide care to the whole person. “Being a doctor is more than numbers and statistics,” she said. “I want to become someone the patient can trust—and Georgetown provides me the necessary tools to become the best physician I can be.”