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Anthony Wilson, MD’90 establishes Jay A. Sorgman, MD'87, Memorial Scholarship to honor husband’s dream

Date Posted: miércoles, septiembre 07, 2022
Dr. Anthony Wilson and Dr. Jay Sorgman
Dr. Anthony Wilson, left, and Dr. Jay Sorgman

Dr. Jay Sorgman devoted his life to education — a plausible path for someone whose passion for reading ignited before the age of 3; who wrote a book (via manual typewriter) by age 6; and by 8, was perusing the dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica for pleasure.

“He had a gigantic library: novels, technical books, religious books,” said Dr. Anthony Wilson, Jay’s husband of 32 years, after they first met as students at UMass Chan Medical School. “He educated himself in a broad way through books ever since he was a child.”

But Jay’s true passion in life was educating others – a passion that never wavered, even after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He determined that he would donate his body to UMass Chan, “so that in a way, he could continue to teach,” Anthony explained. “Jay could continue his dream, which was helping students to learn.”

Since Jay’s passing in 2020 at age 59, Anthony has remained focused on keeping his dream a reality. In 2022, he established the Jay A. Sorgman, MD'87, Memorial Scholarship to support UMass Chan medical students with financial need.

"Scholarships were really important to Jay when he got into medical school and especially after,” Anthony explained. Jay’s family couldn’t support him financially throughout his education, so “receiving scholarships made him very grateful, and he wanted to give back to others and UMass Chan.”

Feeling cared for by the medical school community

Jay, who grew up in Brockton, studied internal medicine and gastroenterology. Anthony, a Worcester native, chose the school’s signature program, primary care.

As an interracial (Anthony is Black; Jay was white) and interreligious (Anthony is Christian; Jay was Jewish) couple, they felt accepted at UMass Chan, despite a societal “potential for bias,” Anthony said. “The medical school community was caring and supportive of us and the multiple and different aspects of our lives.”

In fact, one of the reasons Anthony was initially drawn to UMass Chan was because of the school’s commitment to increasing its racial diversity. “I think UMass Chan was the place to be comfortable,” he recalled. “A lot of people cared about me personally and went out of their way to give me resources, suggestions, extra educational instruction. I felt cared for by the school.”

Upon graduation, Jay served his residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “Jay tutored and gave lectures to students, interns, residents – while he, himself, was a resident,” Anthony said of his late husband’s dedication to learning.

He also continuously mentored and supported students he encountered in his gastroenterology practice, and he and Anthony became active together in UMass Chan alumni programs, reinforcing their commitment to its educational mission.

Giving endures as postscript to a life as two

Losing Jay has forced Anthony to write an unexpected, “whole new chapter” of his life. “I’m building resilience, seeking joyfulness, and slowing down a bit.” He plays piano and loves to travel, just like Jay, who visited 44 countries and all 50 US states throughout his remarkable lifetime of learning.

Anthony is in Costa Rica helping a friend develop a wellness hotel that supports the local community and wildlife. “Now is a time of discovery for me and I am traveling to be a resource to other places, finding out where it is in the world where I can be of service.”

Anthony retired from practicing palliative care in March 2022. “But, when I was practicing, I would share my story with patients and families and be a source of comfort for them to know that I have also gone through loss and grief,” he said. “Connecting in a deep, meaningful way — this is one positive that has come from Jay’s passing.”