New Scholarship for First-Year Med School Students


Destiney Dingess, Reporter

Dr. Mary E. Smyrnioudis, a 2009 graduate from The Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine established the Dr. George Gevas Memorial Scholarship this year in honor of her grandfather who was an obstetrician-gynecologist in Parkersburg, West Virginia for 40 years. 

The recipients for the Dr. George Gevas Memorial Scholarship are to be preferably around Wood County which is where Smyrnioudis grew up and her grandfather practiced. The scholarship is designated for an entering first-year medical student.  

Gevas served in World War II in 1942. When he was drafted, he requested to be medic in hopes of one day becoming a physician. Gevas then started training and became a surgical technician helping deliver babies. His time serving for the U.S. Army initiated his interest in becoming a physician. Gevas was present on D- Day helping the wounded. 

Gevas spent 40 years of his life dedicating his time  to helping others as an OB-GYN in Parkersburg, West Virgina. When he wasn’t working, he devoted his time to his garden.  

“He had a passion for gardening-he had a huge garden. He grew all types of vegetables. He toiled in that garden tirelessly,” Smyrnioudis said. “I spent a lot of time with him in the garden picking vegetables or helping him plant. Whatever he needed, whatever I was designated to do that day. He taught me how to be patient, to work hard and, if you put your energy into something, it’s worth the wait.”  

Long days in the garden with her grandfather taught Smyrnioudis a lot of life skills and watching him give back, to his community has forever inspired Smyrnioudis to do the same.  

“He gave back all day long being a physician to a small town, but at the same token he loved getting all these vegetables and sharing them with so many people in the community and that also gave him great joy, and so I appreciate the simplicity in that now-giving back on different levels,” Smyrnioudis said. 

 “He taught me a lot of life skills working together growing up, just from a very young age,” and I carried that with me. He would always have this wonderful big smile and say, ‘you’re going to be my doctor one day’ and so that became my goal growing up. That’s what I’ve always worked for. I always said I was going to be a physician just like my grandfather.”  

Growing up seeing Gevas  grandfather give back, inspired Smyrnioudis to start giving back wherever she can. Smyrnioudis said she always gives back to Marshall because it’s a wonderful school and it gave her the opportunity to pursue her career and prepare her for a life in medicine.  

After medical school, Smyrnioudis did her residency in emergency medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. After she graduated from residency, she took a job at Mcleod Regional Medical Center in Florence South Carolina where she currently works.  

“I wanted to give back in the form of this scholarship so someone else would have that assistance to help get them through medical school,” Smyrnioudis said. 

 The first recipient of the scholarship is Sophia Shank, a Davisville, West Virginia native with a bachelor of science in psychology from West Virginia University in Morgantown. Shank worked in a clinical psychology research lab, the Parent-Child Interaction lab, and the Parent-Child interaction Therapy lab, where she worked on projects. For the past two years, Shank was a part of the State Opioid Response Grant, where the lab trained therapists and the next year interviewed them about their PCIT cases. Shank was able to learn a lot about access to mental health resources around the state.  

Shank’s inspiration of becoming a physician originated from her father,  

“Seeing how people react to him really inspired me. They would come up and thank him for helping them or their family members,” Shank said. “One of the big things with medical school I had to come to terms with was being in debt, but thanks to this scholarship and a couple others I received it helps me a lot by reducing the amount of debt I will be in out of medical school.”  

After receiving the scholarship Shank and her family were surprised and overjoyed for another reason.  

“My dad knew Dr. Gevas and told me he was such a good person, so it made it more personable,” said Shank.  

Being able to help a medical student get through the same school she graduated from has been such an honor for Smyrnioudis.  

It means a lot to me to be able to do that. I have been so proud of the scholarship, and it brings me a lot of joy and I wish he was alive to see it. I love the fact that it’s something that will live on because he was a wonderful person and a wonderful physician and actually the recipient was really sweet, actually it was really neat because when she told her parents she got this scholarship she said that her dad actually had worked with my grandfather and said how wonderful he was and I really feel like it brings this whole scholarship meaning full circle and I love the fact she received this scholarship and it’s going to somebody who actually knew my grandfather,” Smyrnioudis said.