Mountain State students pursuing a medical degree from the West Virginia University School of Medicine will benefit from a $250,000 scholarship gift made by a retired alumnus in memory of his late wife.
Dr. Kent Webb, of Wilmington, North Carolina, established the Judy Forester Webb & Kent Webb School of Medicine Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to medical students with demonstrated financial need. Preference will be given first to students from Sistersville, West Virginia, followed by those from Tyler County and then West Virginia at large.
“We are always so thankful to our donors who want to support our students on this journey to becoming a physician by relieving the worry and burden as to how to afford their education,” Dr. Norman Ferrari III, the School’s chief academic officer for medical education, vice dean for education and academic affairs, and chair of the Department of Medical Education, said. “This allows students to focus on their academic work as they learn the necessary skills to be the great Mountaineer physicians we know they can be.”
Webb and his late wife, Judy, are natives of Sistersville who first met in the second grade. They married a decade later, in 1957, and spent the early years of their union in Morgantown, where Webb earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and medical degree from WVU. He went on to complete an internship with the U.S. Army serving as a flight surgeon in Vietnam and at Davison Army Airfield in Washington, D.C., where one of his duties was to provide medical support for the President’s helicopter pilots. He then completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota, followed by a research fellowship in nephrology at Duke University.
He credits the outstanding education he received in the public schools in Sistersville and at WVU – both in chemical engineering and medicine – for much of his professional success.
“With the foundation that I got at the engineering and medical schools at West Virginia University, I felt I was better prepared than many of the other physicians that I worked with, especially in the competitive academic environment at Duke University,” Webb said. “I felt a tremendous bond to WVU, and Judy and I had some of our best times there.”
Although he initially pursued academic medicine, Judy Webb helped her husband realize his passion was in patient care. With her administrative leadership, he established one of North Carolina’s first outpatient dialysis clinics in Fayetteville. Together, they grew the practice to include a network of dialysis centers in southeastern North Carolina.
Kent said his wife worked hard to provide financial support and raise their family. While she never had a chance to attend college, she blossomed at running their business. Most importantly, they were partners in life and in fulfilling their dreams. Prior to her passing in February 2020, they discussed their mutual desire to give back to their hometown and WVU via a scholarship. Prioritizing students from Sistersville is important to them, demonstrating how proud they have always been to hail from their hometown and West Virginia.
“Judy and I decided that, when the time came, one of the things we wanted to do was somehow help a student from a small town like Sistersville, to help make it easier for them to achieve the same type of education that I did at the medical school,” Webb said.
While Webb and his wife worked to help make ends meet during his schooling, he also received scholarships to pay for his undergraduate education and assist with medical school. He recognizes the tremendous impact scholarships have and hopes to create opportunities for students from the Tyler County area, which he noted has faced economic challenges in recent years.
“I just hope that it helps somebody from an area like the town I grew up in that maybe could not really, with the financial burden, have gone to medical school otherwise,” he said.
Webb’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
CONTACT: Cassie Rice