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Time to Shine

Parent Stories

Penn Medicine Parents Provide Support and Advice


Ronald and Susan Pross

The day Ronald and Susan Pross sent their son, Seth, to medical school, they experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. The Prosses have been active alumni for over 35 years, but sending their child to medical school opened up a brand new chapter in their lives. 

They transformed their experience into a way to offer insight and advice to other parents of medical school students, when they sat on a panel hosted by the Office of Alumni Development and Alumni Relations. The purpose of the panel was to answer questions from “new” parents about the life of a student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It was a great opportunity to help parents and allay their fears. It was an enriching experience and, of course, we will do anything for Penn,” says Ronald.

Although they currently live in Florida, the Prosses never hesitate to volunteer their time. “We love Penn! We are grateful for our excellent education and for the terrific training that our son is currently receiving,” says Susan.

Penn certainly gave the Prosses the foundation for successful careers. Ronald graduated from the School of Dental Medicine in 1974. For more than 35 years, he has held a private dental practice in Tampa.

Susan received her Ph.D. in biology in 1975 at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and did her research in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Pathology. She is now a professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Now, from a parent perspective, they are seeing their son experience the rigors of medical school. He is excelling not only in his studies, but also in balancing his time between work and leisure. The Prosses could not be more proud, and they give the credit to Penn.

“Penn administration and faculty are so supportive of the students,” Susan says. “The course work is challenging and the opportunities to interact with faculty and patients are enriching. But there is life beyond course work and Penn is great at being a home away from home for Seth because of the caring of the Penn faculty.” 

The Prosses relished their role dispensing advice to parents and loved ones of new medical students. There is one particular question that came up time and time again: Would the heavy workload of medical school prevent students from having a life? Dr. Susan Pross assured parents that students will still enjoy a social network, and that Penn encourages them to join an athletic team, cultivate relationships and perform community service.

“Penn bends over backwards to support their students. They offer an array of services to help them adjust and cope. They want them to be well-rounded and happy,” says Ronald.

And what is the best of advice they could pass on to parents? The Prosses say, “To appreciate this incredible growth process with their children. This is an exciting time and they should relax!”

Sandy and Steve Waters

Sandy and Steve Waters, parents of second-year Penn Medicine student John Waters, believe that the relationship with one’s college or university goes far beyond sitting in the classroom and earning a degree. "It’s belonging to a group," Sandy says. "You’re a member, and members need to support the institution." 

As a med student, Sandy explains, their son isn’t yet able to support Penn’s School of Medicine. She and Steve have become involved with Penn as volunteers and financial supporters to create an example for John to follow. 

Steve Waters, an investment banker, supports his undergraduate and graduate institutions, Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Sandy, former school board chairman in Greenwich, Connecticut, serves on the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College, where she earned her undergraduate degree.  

For Penn Medicine, they’ve added their signatures and enthusiasm to fund-raising letters, and contribute generously to the Annual Fund. The Waterses feel strongly about supporting financial aid, and making a medical education more accessible to underrepresented minorities. "It’s not in anyone’s interest to exclude any applicant with talent and ability," says Sandy. 

Sandy participated in a panel discussion during last fall’s Parents and Partners Program. She says, "As a parent, I worry about my child having balance in his life. They work very hard in medical school. As far as advice for other parents, I think Vice Dean Gail  Morrison said it best:  'Your role is to tell your child that yes, they should come home for Thanksgiving, and yes, they should go out to dinner with their friends.'"

"John loves Penn, and we are very impressed." Sandy continues. "The School is both rigorous and compassionate, and it seems like they are always seeking out ways to improve the way they do things."


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