MSM’s Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice to Receive the 2017 Horatio Alger Award

Horatio Alger Association names 11 exceptional individuals, each of whom has overcome significant challenges to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2017

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, recently announced that Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean, Morehouse School of Medicine, has been selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Montgomery Rice joins 10 other esteemed business and civic leaders from across North America in receiving this honor in 2017.

Montgomery Rice was born in Macon, Ga., where she and her three sisters were raised by her hardworking single mother. At age seven, she suffered from Osteomyelitis, and was hospitalized for three months due to the rare yet serious condition that presents with fever and pain over the bone area secondary to an infection. The disease had taken a toll on her physical strength, yet her determination never wavered. She lagged behind in school, due to her condition, and was required to take an alternative bus with mentally challenged students. Montgomery Rice formed a special relationship with these children, and they shaped her desire to serve marginalized populations. She worked hard in school and was awarded academic scholarships to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology. Montgomery Rice then received her MD from Harvard Medical School and completed residency training at Emory University School of Medicine. She began her career in medicine in 1993 at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Henry Ford Medical Center and Meharry Medical College where she held faculty appointments and leadership roles. An internationally renowned reproductive endocrinologist, she returned to Georgia in 2011 to take a role as the dean and executive vice president of Morehouse School of Medicine, and later, became the first female president in the school’s history. Under Montgomery Rice’s leadership, the school embraces a new vision to lead the creation and advancement of health equity. She has nearly doubled the MD class size, orchestrated several renovation projects and the construction of a student pavilion, and secured more than $70 million in institutional funding, capital projects and scholarships to further diversify Georgia’s healthcare professionals.

“Valerie’s incredible accomplishments and work ethic perfectly reflect the principles of this organization,” says Byron Trott, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2011 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “We speak often of the American Dream, and few individuals better capture the power of that dream than Valerie. An internationally recognized doctor and dedicated philanthropist, she will serve as an important role model for both current and Alumni Scholars. We are proud to welcome her into the Association as part of this outstanding class of new Members.”

Montgomery Rice strongly believes in utilizing her leadership role to give back to the community, especially to advance the educational opportunities available to underprivileged youth. She donates to – and supports – many organizations, including the Girl Scouts of America, the National Medical Fellows, March of Dimes, the Society for Women’s Health Research, the United Negro College Fund and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others. Most recently, Montgomery Rice and the Morehouse School of Medicine adopted the Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy, a Title I elementary school, and developed a STEM lab, group and individual mentoring programs and quarterly programming in collaboration with corporations.

“From a young age, I witnessed my mother’s strength and resilience in the face of great challenges,” Montgomery Rice commented. “She taught me to strive for the impossible and to never give up on my dreams. As part of the Horatio Alger Association, I hope to inspire young people and instill those same values within them. I understand what it is like to experience hardships, and I look forward to working with these remarkable Scholars, bearing witness to their achievement of big and bold dreams.” AT


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