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Former Presidential Scholars pay it forward

Dan BreeceDan Breece '97

During high school, back in West Virginia, Dan Breece had no interest in following his older sisters to Queens.  

Today, the emergency department physician is glad he changed his mind. He says the experiences he had here helped shaped the man he would become, and it's his pleasure to give to Queens to make such transformations possible for current students.

Breece, '97, and his sisters all attended Queens as Presidential Scholars, earning full scholarships for four years of study.

At Queens, he remembers, he immediately found a community where the needs of students were the highest concern and where the faculty offered top-quality instruction.  

 "They would bend over backwards to any student who showed any interest at all," said Breece recently as he prepared to start work as an emergency room doctor in Ohio after a stint as a Navy medical officer serving with the U.S. Marine Corps.

He also found a robust network of opportunities and connections. He enjoyed mixing with the prominent but accessible leaders connected with Queens, including former Bank of America chief executive Hugh McColl Jr., whom Breece sometimes ate lunch with on campus.

"It was nothing to see him walking across campus in jeans and a cowboy hat ," Breece says, "and ask you if you wanted to eat with him."

While an undergraduate, Breece volunteered to participate in research at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and the experience bolstered his decision to continue on to earning a medical degree.

Breece also took advantage of Queens' international study programs, doing a medical research internship in London that included a backpacking journey across Europe.

Looking back, his sisters had the right idea, after all. All three siblings have had successful careers. Nancy, also a physician, graduated from Queens in 1992, and is a pediatrician and faculty member at West Virginia University School of Medicine.  Susan earned a political science degree in 1994 and now practices law.

Breece graduated in 1997, then went on to medical school to focus on emergency medicine. But he didn't forget what Queens did for him. He and his wife donate money for various needs on campus, including toward scholarships and equipment for the biochemistry department, where he took classes for his major.

"I'm glad I went to Queens," he said. "It was definitely a good decision."
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