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Ramona L. Reed, MD ’68, and Larry N. Reed Scholarship

Two years before the University of Virginia enrolled its first coed undergraduate class, Ramona Reed, MD ’68, graduated from the School of Medicine. On a trip to Charlottesville in Spring 2023, Reed visited the old medical school building.

Sitting in the amphitheater-style lecture hall, Reed recalled sneaking in the room before class and drawing a picture of the heart’s anatomy on the hidden panel of the sliding chalkboard. “I wrote, ‘There will always be a place in my heart for you—right between the aorta and the semilunar valves,’” she remembered. “I thought it was really funny.” Her classmates thought she was trying to curry favor with their professor, Dr. Jan Langman.

Medical school was not an easy time for Reed. There were two other women in her class, and both had connections that Reed, the daughter of a Lutheran minister, did not—one woman’s father was president of the Virginia Medical Society, and the other had a brother who wrote for the Washington Post.

Reed persevered. “I had wanted to go to UVA since way back in high school. I figured that it was the very best medical school in Virginia,” she said. “I did get a scholarship—I would not have been able to come to medical school had I not.”

Reed and her husband Larry Reed, a retired electrical engineer, will celebrate their 49th anniversary this year. Larry earned his degree from the University of Nebraska after serving in Vietnam with the Navy.

The Reeds are grateful for the opportunities provided them by their respective schools—opportunities that they made the most of. Ramona went on to complete her residency in psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1972 and a fellowship at Colorado State Hospital, where she then practiced adult and geriatric psychiatry. Larry’s engineering career included time with NASA’s Viking program and 17 years at Coors Brewing Company, where he programmed the machinery that bottled and packaged Coors Light.

The couple has made plans to support the School of Medicine and the University of Nebraska through their estate. Their bequest will provide need-based scholarships for medical students at UVA and for electrical engineering students at Nebraska. “There are a lot of small towns in Nebraska with people that might be capable of going to school but can’t afford it,” said Larry. “They’re capable, but they don’t have the opportunity.”

The Reeds recently significantly increased their commitment, which will also provide more resources for the Reed Psychiatric Care Fund at the UVA Medical Alumni Association and Medical School Foundation. The couple established this fund in 2006 to cover the cost of outpatient mental health services for medical students in crisis.

Ramona hopes the future recipients of the Ramona L. Reed, MD and Larry N. Reed Scholarship become physicians that serve their patients with kindness. “I really think that it’s good for people who are going to be doctors to be kind and empathetic,” she said. Her advice to medical students: “Listen to your heart. Be kind to people.”

(This story originally appeared in Envision magazine.)