You are here

Global legacy

Scholarship gift honors family, Bloomberg School Centennial
Posted January 14, 2016
Bill and Nancy Yang, pictured with Java Joe, were the first to establish a Centennial Scholar endowed fund in honor of the Bloomberg School's 100-year anniversary. IMAGE: Craig Bromley Bill and Nancy Yang, pictured with Java Joe, were the first to establish a Centennial Scholar endowed fund in honor of the Bloomberg School's 100-year anniversary. IMAGE: Craig Bromley

His parents told him, “Giving you an education is more valuable than leaving you money.” Their indelible legacy ultimately prompted Bill Yang, MPH ’84, Med ’85 (PGF), and his wife, Nancy, to make plans in their will to supplement their lifetime funding of a Master of Public Health scholarship at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. At first, they didn’t really understand how gift planning could support their philanthropic goals, but they now fully grasp its value as a result of taking their time and building a relationship with their gift officers from the Bloomberg School and the Johns Hopkins Office of Gift Planning.

“Their approach to explaining the ‘how’ of gift planning made a real difference,” says Bill. “The gift planning staff made it so easy to do things such as transferring stocks. They answered all my questions, provided the necessary forms, and walked us through the process. It made simple what we thought was going to be a long, time-consuming process!”

Bill and Nancy’s decision to boost their funding of the scholarship with a future gift from their estate reflects the values passed on to them by their parents. “Education was the best gift they could give us,” Bill says of his parents. His grandfather had been president of Soochow University, and his father came to the United States to attend college just before World War II. In the aftermath of the communist revolution, Bill’s father was unable to return to his homeland and ultimately settled his family in Ohio. Bill’s mother was born and raised in Trinidad. She was a college math professor, devoted to teaching her many non-traditional students: most long out of high school, some raising families. She designed teaching videos to help them get through their math requirements.

International Outreach

Like Bill’s mother, the Yangs care deeply about helping students, especially those shut out by the cost of tuition. In honor of Bill’s father, they designated their scholarship to benefit an international student in the Master of Public Health program at the Bloomberg School.

Bill, a Navy physician who earned a full scholarship to complete the two-year Bloomberg School residency in occupational and environmental medicine, chairs the preventive medicine residency advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There, he plays an active role in shaping the learning experiences of public health residents.

In recent years, the Yangs have grown more passionate about the value of scholarships to open the doors of great institutions like Johns Hopkins. Bill worries “there’s so much student debt, it’s like paying off a house after you graduate.” Scholarships are especially critical for international students, for whom even low tuition may be unaffordable. Bill and Nancy say they “want more people to have the amazing opportunity to attend Johns Hopkins and take it back to other parts of the world.”

Adds Nancy, “We really feel strongly about education and we have the resources. Since we don’t have children, we wanted to help someone else’s children go to school.” The Yangs are also pleased that their scholarship pays tribute to the Bloomberg School’s 100-year anniversary. The Yangs were the first to formally establish a Centennial Scholar endowed fund at the Bloomberg School, part of the initiative to increase scholarship support and recruit the world’s most promising students to each of the school’s 10 departments and the Master of Public Health program. The gift from their estate will ensure support of their scholarship well into the future.

The Yangs are already looking forward to meeting the current recipient of the Yang Centennial Scholarship in person and hearing the student’s plans for the future. The most important goal for their scholarship is to ensure that more Bloomberg School graduates “get the opportunity and don’t have to take out a loan or worry about living expenses while they are here, so they can enjoy and soak up as much as possible during that year.” Every time that happens, Bill’s grandfather and parents will have left an educational legacy that circled the globe and survives into the new century.