Lightening the Load, Promoting the Profession: The Steven C. Beering, MD, Scholarship

Issue Date: 
February 1, 2010
Jane and Steven BeeringJane and Steven Beering

Steven C. Beering (MED ’58, A&S ’55) remembers his life turning upside down when he was 15 years old and his family moved from Germany to Pittsburgh in July 1948. “The world was a different place,” he recalled during a recent interview. But the young Beering’s thirst for knowledge and success was unwavering. He quickly adapted to his new surroundings and began working to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.

It was the influence of C. H. William Ruhe (MED ’40, A&S ’37), Beering’s mentor and a professor in Pitt’s School of Medicine from 1941 through 1960, that led Beering to the University of Pittsburgh. With Ruhe’s help, Beering gained entrance to Pitt after graduating from high school with highest honors. He was given a job in the University’s language departments, where he met his wife Jane (A&S ’55), who was studying Chinese. Beering taught French and German while pursuing his own education at Pitt, first as an undergraduate and then as a medical student. “I was a poor church mouse!” Beering remembered with a laugh. “I did have a few scholarships, but I also worked a few different jobs—driving cabs, working in steel mills, translating medical articles—just to make ends meet.”

Beering specialized in internal medicine and endocrinology. After graduating from medical school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and began a career that included stints at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well as at NASA during the earlier stages of the space program. Later, Beering accepted a teaching position with the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, where he taught and maintained a practice for 10 years before being elected president of Purdue University. Beering served Purdue for 18 years, and during his tenure there, he established a successful scholarship program. He also established scholarship programs within the Indiana University School of Medicine and Pitt’s School of Medicine.

“I remember what it was like to work hard as a student, and I decided that when I had the chance, I would donate to support scholarships,” Beering said.

The Steven C. Beering, MD, Scholarship at Pitt’s School of Medicine is awarded annually to help a student reduce the cost of his or her medical school tuition. This year’s Beering Scholar, third-year medical student Veronica Ortiz, said she is excited to be working toward her lifelong goal of becoming a physician. Clinical rotations have been the highlight of her medical education thus far. “I’ve loved transitioning into patient care and being able to implement what I’ve learned in my first two years [of medical school],” she said.

Ortiz added that the Beering Scholarship has allowed her to pursue her academic and research endeavors with fewer financial burdens. Her research opportunities have included working with world-renowned neurosurgeons and critical-care doctors. “I am extremely grateful. Dr. and Mrs. Beering’s generosity has been instrumental in my medical school success,” she said.

Beering is an emeritus trustee at the University of Pittsburgh and chair of the National Science Board, which is the governing board of the National Science Foundation as well as a policy advisor to the U.S. president and Congress. Beering understands the important connection between scholarship and success in the medical field. “There’s nothing quite so satisfying as to help someone attain his or her goals,” Beering said. “It takes years to get an MD, and graduating with debt can be a big setback, steering people away from general practice, family medicine, and care in rural and urban areas. Right now, there’s a shortage of physicians in each of these areas, but donating to support medical student scholarships [can ease those shortages],” he said.

The Beering Scholarship will continue to do just that, enhancing the education and lives of students like Veronica Ortiz for many decades to come.