As a former clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) student, Melissa Dull knew the financial struggles of being enrolled in a full-time training program. Dull wanted to help other students through these lean times and before her passing, she generously donated $100,000 to the UC San Diego Extension CLS Program. Her donation provided a $1,500 stipend to 15 recent graduates of the UC San Diego Extension CLS Training Program.
Dull was a licensed medical technologist for 37 years who during her career worked at Rady Children's Hospital, Grossmont Hospital and a private laboratory before accepting a position as a microbiologist with the Naval Medical Center San Diego. She found her true calling in teaching and encouraged colleagues to complete their education and get their CLS license. Dull retired in 2016 and established the Melissa Dull Current Use Fund for CLS Program Support to encourage future medical laboratory scientists in the profession she loved.
At a reception on Oct. 23, Barb Sevilla, CLS program coordinator, and Mari Numanoi, Dull's best friend, celebrated the life and generosity of Dull. Mary Walshok, dean of UC San Diego Extension, joined Sevilla to distribute checks to the 15 recent graduates of the program.
Sevilla said it is her hope that the financial assistance will also help encourage more people to consider becoming a clinical laboratory scientist as they are the backbone of medical treatment and scientific research. Currently, there is a severe shortage of qualified laboratory personnel in hospitals, freestanding clinical laboratories and in biotech. New advances in medicine and information technology have also created a demand for skilled clinical lab workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to grow by 13 percent by 2020.
"What is really needed in the American labor force are students who have technical skills, particularly in the science and technology arena. Clinical laboratory scientists represent the kind of jobs that are so important to our local economy," said Walshok. "As medical research advances and patient care improves, I think it's going to continue to be a high demand area."
Because of the demand, Sharp, Scripps and UC San Diego pay the tuition of the participants in UC San Diego Extension's CLS program. Still, the program is a full-time commitment, which makes it nearly impossible for those in the program to earn a living.
Annie Soto, a recent graduate of the CLS program and stipend recipient, expressed gratitude in receiving a check from the Melissa Dull Current Use Fund.
"This is incredibly meaningful, especially coming from a CLS instructor and professional. We all gave up our jobs before we started this program and some of us have taken out loans to get through the year," said Soto. "We all have a lot of bills to pay and there is definitely a lot of stress. It's amazing what she has done, especially to leave it to future classes. It's extremely helpful."
It was Dull's wish that others donate to the fund to perpetuate additional resources for future CLS students. Donations should be send to the UC San Diego Foundation, attention Kim Wenrick, University Development, 9500 Gilman Drive #0937, La Jolla, CA 92093-0937.