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Spring 2014
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Many Happy Returns
Alumna endows scholarship to help lighten the load for medical students.

“Why do you want to be a doctor?” Alexes Hazen’s grandfather once asked. “Just be a woman.”

But Hazen ’87 MD’96 wanted to help people, and though her path was a little more circuitous than most, she finally found her way to medicine. Now an assistant professor of plastic surgery at New York University and director of the NYU Aesthetic Surgery Center, Hazen was a featured speaker at the annual “Generosity and Gratitude” celebration of medical student scholarships on April 23, where she told the audience why she endowed the Alexes Hazen, MD, and Alex Ettl Medical Scholarship.

Her grandfather, Alex Ettl, was a very impressive – and imposing – self-made man. A sculptor, he turned a little family business importing artists’ tools into a nationally renowned company that made large-scale monuments.

“He became a millionaire, and instilled both terror and a work ethic in us,” Hazen said.

Self-described as a good but somewhat unfocused student, Hazen worked as an AIDS educator in a high risk neighborhood in New York after graduating from Brown and then served in the Peace Corps in Honduras. With a little life experience under her belt, her future came into sharper focus and she realized that yes, she really could be a doctor. She completed the postbaccalaureate premedical program at Bryn Mawr College and returned to Brown for medical school.

Hazen said she soon realized how privileged she was – with her parents paying for her tuition, her living expenses, even buying her a car – after seeing the experiences of her best friend, who was also a medical student.

“She had scholarships, loans, jobs … I’d be going to the movies and she’d be going to work,” Hazen says. “She was under pressure to do well and she had to succeed. It was eye opening to me. I decided at that point if I ever had the means, that I would do something so that people had the chance to decide on whatever career they wanted and to go with their heart rather than what makes money.”

That opportunity came when her grandfather died at the age of 96. He established a foundation with his fortune and appointed his children and grandchildren directors. Shortly after she graduated from medical school, Hazen used some of the funds to establish the medical scholarship that bears her and her grandfather’s names.

As part of her giving to Boldly Brown: Campaign for Academic Enrichment, Hazen committed additional funds to the medical scholarship last year, in addition to supporting the Brown Annual Fund and the Brown Medical Annual Fund. Her gifts were matched dollar for dollar by the Women’s Leadership Challenge, established by the Women’s Leadership Council at Brown to both honor President Ruth J. Simmons’ commitment to higher education, particularly the education of women, and to inspire greater leadership giving from Brown alumnae. 


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