Friends Of Slain Mercy Hospital ER Doctor Set Up A Scholarship Fund In Her Honor
Months after a horrific shooting at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago which took the life of a well-loved emergency room doctor, a medical scholarship has been named in her honor.
This week the classmates of Dr. Tamara O’Neal announced The Tamara O’Neal MD Scholarship Fund, which will financially aid a selected first-year medical student at the University of Illinois’ Urban Health Program, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
O’Neal’s friends raised $68,000 in funds and hope to expand the program to afford a second scholarship to a fourth-year med student completing their residency in emergency medicine. O’Neal graduated from UIC College of Medicine in 2014 and in 2017 as an emergency medicine resident.
O’Neal’s family say they feel honored that the funds will help young students like she once was. “Their ultimate goal is to raise enough money so this will be an ongoing scholarship from here on out,” her father, Tom O’Neal, to the Sun-Times. “I thought that was pretty good.”
“Tamara was always a person who lived to help people, and to be able to pass that on in the form of this scholarship fund to help someone else, then Tamara still lives,” he continued. “She used to call me up and tell me to say an extra prayer for her when she had a big exam…now I’ll say an extra prayer for the person who gets this scholarship,” he said.
Chisalu Nchekwube, O’Neal’s close friend and family medicine resident at Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn echoed the sentiments of those who loved her.
“Tamara made sure that our group of friends continued to get together even after we all graduated and were all over the country doing our residencies,” Nchekwube said in a statement issued by UIC. “Our group became like a family and Tamara was the matriarch, the glue that held us together.”
O’Neal was senselessly murdered on November 19, when her ex-fiance Juan Lopez entered the doors of Mercy Hospital and opened fire, fatally striking O’Neal, Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was responding to the scene, and pharmacy resident Dayna Less, who had just finished a doctorate program at Purdue University. Lopez was struck by police moments before he took his own life.
Police believe the shooting was related to a domestic dispute that the two had prior to the shooting. O’Neal’s death struck a powerful chord in a series of incidents that show the toxicity and violence that many Black women and women of color experience in their romantic relationships.
However, with the naming of a scholarship in her honor, the life and legacy of Dr. O’Neal will continue to live on and serve future generations.