Honoring the legacy of a neuroscience student

By Jan Jarvis

Rachel Dauphin

Steve Looney is an avid golfer who rarely misses the chance to play in the annual Sonny Singh Open.

But his motivation isn’t so much the golf tournament, as it is the scholarship that it funds. The Rachel Dauphin Memorial Student Scholarship is named for the PhD student in Pharmacology and Neuroscience who died of cancer in 2005.

Looney never met Dauphin, but he did donate his stem cells to her for a bone marrow transplant. He was contacted by Dauphin’s family after her death and they met for dinner. Since then Looney has flown from his home in Indiana to attend the golf tournament with Rachel’s mother.

“It’s for a great cause, and I definitely have an attachment to it,” he said. “In a sense, the Dauphins are my family and this is something I want to support.”

The 13th Annual Sonny Singh Open on April 22 at Whitestone Golf Club in Benbrook will give golfers the chance to enjoy the sport while raising funds for the scholarship. Each year those funds are used to award scholarships to students who show the same level of enthusiasm, academic ability and volunteerism that was characteristic of Dauphin.

Lillian Dauphin said her daughter was an out-going young woman and dedicated student who wanted to be a coroner but changed her career path when she discovered neuroscience while at UNT Health Science Center. Working in a lab proved to be more rewarding than the young student ever imagined.

No matter how busy Rachel was, she always made time to volunteer at UNTHSC and in the community, her mother said. She learned she had cancer when the blood she donated as part of a drive she organized raised suspicions.

The tournament began in 2004 as a way for friends and colleagues to have fun, but a few years later grew to have another purpose, said Meharvan “Sonny” Singh, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

“My wife and I have been really pleased to see it grow to the extent that it has,” he said. “We are proud to contribute all proceeds from the tournament to the Rachel Dauphin Memorial Scholarship.”

Thee 2016-2017 scholarships went to further the education of two first-generation college students, Nicole Novroski and Vuvi Nguyen.

“The money from this scholarship has helped alleviate the costs of being a graduate student,” said Novroski, who is studying forensic biology. “But the honor of this award is truly what I am most appreciative for.”

Nguyen, a biological sciences student, said she also was grateful for the scholarship.

“I feel very blessed for the generosity of the donors of the Rachel Dauphin Memorial Scholarship and I will make sure to represent the university and the Dauphin family with the highest honor,” she said.

Knowing that students are helped each year by the scholarship named for her daughter is very rewarding, Dauphin said.

“Rachel was on her way to really having a purpose in life,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have something that keeps her legacy going.”

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