Tramuto Foundation Scholarship Helps Students Become ‘Effective Agents of Change’
During her early career as a physician in Colombia, Maria Bustos Márquez (SPH’18) recognized the need for collaborative, systems-level thinking and action in the health field to reduce the suffering she witnessed among her patients with chronic pain and mental health challenges.
Rather than continuing to follow a traditional clinical career path, the School of Public Health alum decided to gain practice-based skills to tackle these issues by pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at SPH in 2016, where she concentrated in healthcare management and pharmaceuticals. After receiving her MPH in 2018, Márquez returned to Colombia and has served in pharmaceutical and consulting positions, determined to improve the state of healthcare in her native country.
For her passion and commitment to improving the healthcare system and chronic health conditions in Colombia, Márquez became the first recipient of the Tramuto Foundation Scholarship at the end of her first year in the MPH program.
Established in 2013, the scholarship provides support for outstanding international students working to complete their MPH degree. Healthcare entrepreneur and philanthropist Donato Tramuto, who is also a member of the SPH Dean’s Advisory Board, endowed the Tramuto Foundation International Scholarship Fund to support international students completing their studies and prepare them for a successful career in global public health.
Being named the first Tramuto Foundation Scholar was “a source of inspiration and motivation,” said Márquez after she received the scholarship, and now she works as a regional market access manager LATAM at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. “It reinstated in me that when you do things with passion and enjoy the process, good things happen. And genuine motivation, beyond financial reasons, is undoubtedly the ultimate determinant ingredient for successful learning.”
Since then, four other SPH alums and students have also received the scholarship, including alums Talia Buksbaum (SPH’21), Prerana Gaitonde (SPH’21), and Bala Niharika Pillalamarri (SPH’21), as well as second-year MPH student Lang Zhang.
“The new global currency is compassion and kindness,” says Tramuto, chairman and founder of the Tramuto Foundation, which advances young people’s rights to education and healthcare access, and combats human right violations. Tramuto is also the founder of the nonprofit Health eVillages and author of a new book titled The Double Bottom Line: How Compassionate Leaders Captivate Hearts and Deliver Results. “To see the students pursuing their dream in public health and then bringing their skills back to their respective countries speaks volumes to the movement our Foundation is committed to, specifically advancing forward a more compassionate and kinder world,” he says.
Pillalamarri, who studied epidemiology and biostatistics at SPH as an international student from India, says the scholarship enabled her to gain valuable skills inside and outside of the classroom as she pursued her degree with an interest in cancer prevention. As a student, she contributed to Massachusetts’s COVID-19 response as a volunteer with the Academic Public Health Corps, and also studied metabolic syndrome genetic variants and prostate cancer survival through a prostate cancer project at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“I am extremely thankful to Donato Tramuto and the Tramuto Foundation for their funding towards my education,” says Pillalamarri, who currently works as a research data analyst at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center. “The contributions from the Tramuto Foundation have helped me reach one more step towards my goals. I am grateful for this opportunity and I hope someday I can follow their steps to support other aspiring public health students.”
Buksbaum, who was an international student from Canada, studied program management at SPH. With a background in psychology, she worked with children who have emotional and behavioral disorders and past trauma living in low-socioeconomic neighborhoods. Buksbaum pursued her MPH with a desire to design cost-effective interventions that improve access to mental health care, and she says she is grateful for the scholarship which enabled her to “examine and evaluate which evidence-based interventions truly engender change.
“Being able to identify an issue within a community is only the first step,” says Buksbaum, who is now a network health manager at the Minneapolis-based organization Unite Us. “Implementing said changes at the cultural, economic and societal level would ultimately affect the behavioral level of the given community.”
Tramuto launched the foundation in 2001, in memory of two friends and their three-year-old son who lost their lives on 9/11 when United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. Tramuto was scheduled to be on that flight, but postponed his trip due to an emergency dental appointment.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, the foundation will hold its 20th Anniversary Gala at the Cliff House Resort in Cape Neddick, Maine, to honor the achievements of nine organizations, including SPH. Over the past several years, Tramuto has championed the need for compassionate leadership in corporate America and communities across the country, and the event will feature notable figures (in person or by video) who have demonstrated empathy and compassion, including journalist Katie Couric, members of the Kennedy family, and actor and human rights activist Matt McCoy.
Tramuto will also speak about his aforementioned book during an upcoming Public Health Conversation, moderated by Márquez, on Thursday, October 7 from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m.
“Boston University School of Public Health has been an unmatched ambassador toward recognizing the commitment we all have toward addressing social determinants of health and health disparities across the world,” says Tramuto. “It is about the tipping point—we touch one life and that person is able to help many others.”
He says he admires the scholarship winners’ “deep appreciation for this small act of support the Foundation has provided.
“It validates my belief that the Foundation is not about doing one great thing, and rather it is about doing little things that have the capacity to drive great change.”