Giving Thanks

Mary Jo Drew

Dr. Mary Jo Drew
Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Drew

Future pre-med students at the University of Northern Colorado will have much to be thankful for because of an alumna who is saying "thank you" to the university via a $1.5 million planned gift.

Mary Jo Drew's recently announced bequest made through the UNC Foundation will fund student scholarships and research, and provide a biological sciences professorship to attract and retain distinguished faculty scholars.

Drew, who was born and raised in Greeley, graduated from UNC in 1979 with a degree in Biological Sciences. Today she is a physician specializing in transfusion medicine.

According to Drew, she studied under many great professors while she attended UNC, not only in the sciences, but also in English literature, anthropology and the fine arts. She considers the UNC pre-medical program vital to her success in being admitted to the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

"I will always be grateful for the mentoring and friendships first nurtured at UNC," Drew said. "I have a strong desire to continue this legacy by supporting upcoming generations of students in achieving their life goals through the best in higher education."

When she started medical school in 1979, Drew's goal was to be an internist or oncologist, but she discovered an affinity for clinical laboratory work her sophomore year and for a time considered pursuing a career in anatomic pathology '' diagnosing disease by examining organs, tissue and whole bodies.

During her pathology residency, however, she spent time in the blood bank and coagulation labs and discovered she had a talent in those areas and in hematopathology '' diagnostic evaluation of blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes and other blood-related tissues.

She ultimately chose and completed a fellowship in blood banking and transfusion medicine because she felt she could most fully utilize her analytical abilities and people skills in that area of clinical pathology.

"I have been very fortunate over the years to have the opportunity to practice in all the venues transfusion medicine has to offer and in widely - some would say 'wildly' - different areas of the country: Tampa, Little Rock, Detroit, and now, Portland," Drew said. "Each area of the country and mode of practice has broadened my perspective and underscored the vital role UNC played in getting me where I am today in my life and career."

Drew, who earned a master's in health services administration from the University of Michigan in 2000, is now chief medical officer for the American Red Cross Northwest Blood Services Region, which serves Oregon, Washing and Alaska from its headquarters in Portland, Ore.

"I think alumni need to get involved, if they haven't. They need to get back in touch with their school to see the great stuff that is happening," said Drew. "Once they support the place that got them launched professionally, they'll realize the impact it had on their lives."