Awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose selfless and caring work and deeds benefit society and humankind.
Dr. Marilee Cole, class of 1968, graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology. She was also Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, Biology Honorary, and Tri Delta Scholastic Award. Her extracurricular activities included the Christian Fellowship, L'Agenda, The Bucknellian, and the Ski Club.
While at Bucknell she saw a poster one day for the "Crossroads Africa Program." She signed up and spent the summer at the end of her junior year building a schoolhouse in Chad. There she also saw first hand the inadequacies of medical care in third world countries. Upon returning to Bucknell for her senior year, she was encouraged to continue to pursue her developing world interests by designing a self-study course on Africa and by implementing an "African Conference." That summer's experience in Africa continued to percolate with her as she went on to get her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1972. In 2002 she earned a Diploma in Hygiene and Tropical Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Since then she has become an expert in the areas of tropical medicine, international health, and developing world HIV/AIDS management.
In 1969, she married her Bucknell classmate, Roger Cole. During the ensuing years she became employed in Washington DC at Georgetown University Hospital Department of Internal Medicine. She and her husband raised two children: Rebecca and Russell. Shortly after her youngest child, Russell, graduated from college she decided it was time to fulfill her longing to return to Africa. In 2000, she began taking leaves of absence without pay from Georgetown and traveling at her own expense to Cameroon, West Africa. She worked there for two months each year providing medical treatment to patients suffering with HIV/AIDS and educational support to her overburdened Cameroonian physician colleagues. What started out as a one time unpaid leave of absence to do volunteer work in Cameroon during March and April, has become an unpaid annual volunteer effort. Her efforts have grown into a program that has engaged Georgetown University Internal Medicine Residents to join her each year to work in the Cameroon hospital and to teach the Cameroonian physicians about providing AIDS treatment, as well as treatment of other medical conditions. Dr. Cole's program is so successful that she now has residents on the waiting list to accompany her until the year 2011.
When Dr. Cole returns to her US home she spends a substantial amount of her time continuing to do volunteer medical work here by providing year-round e-consultations on tropical medicine, HIV/AIDS, and international health topics. Her organization and programs impact an estimated 1 million Cameroonian patients. Additionally, she continues to work full days as an internist at Georgetown University Hospital.
Dr. Cole was president of Georgetown Women in Medicine for two years where she was responsible for starting a Women's Mentorship program, pushing for equal pay and equal representation for women. She has numerous recognitions for her work. She is presently Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC.