Transforming Lives Through Generosity

Philanthropy creates ripples that transform lives beyond initial expectations.

Carolyn FrenkhilMore than five years ago, an informal conversation between Carolyn Frenkil, philanthropist and School of Medicine Board of Visitors member, and Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD, clinical professor of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery, evolved into a dialogue about Dr. Hertzano’s research on sex hormones and age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss, which required funding to move forward.

Pictured right: Carolyn Frenkil

Dr. Hertzano fondly recalls those conversations as more challenging than defending her PhD thesis. “Carolyn feels a deep responsibility when she commits to a gift,” Dr. Hertzano said. “She doesn’t just hand out money; she asks a lot of critical questions. Her passion is inspirational.”

The generosity of Carolyn and her late husband, alumnus James Frenkil, MD ’37, is woven into the fabric of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. This particular gift, however, underscores the power of giving because it changed the course of Dr. Hertzano’s research by enabling her to begin her new investigation. She used the funding to hire research assistant, Benjamin Shuster, a post-bacc student with a life-long dream of becoming a doctor.

“As clinician scientists, we don’t have departmental funds to hire staff,” she explained. “This was a game changer for him and me.”

Dr. Ronna Hertzano and Benjamin Shuster The research project generated enough preliminary data to garner the interest of the U.S. Department of Defense, which granted more than $1 million dollars to expand her research. Dr. Hertzano’s efforts progressed under her new role as head of the Neurotology Branch in the Division of Intramural Research at NIH, and Benjamin’s impressive work supported his recent acceptance to the UMSOM class of 2028.

Pictured right: Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD, and Benjamin Shuster

Benjamin credits his achievements to the support and mentorship he received from Dr. Hertzano and the opportunities it afforded him for personal, professional, and academic development—all made possible with the gift from the James and Carolyn Frenkil Charitable Foundation. “Carolyn Frenkil’s generosity changed my life trajectory,” Benjamin said.

Going forward, Carolyn’s support will continue to empower the work of Dr. Hertzano, Benjamin Shuster, and everyone touched by it, including those who will benefit from their discoveries. “You don’t meet a lot of people like that,” Dr. Hertzano said. “To have someone take a real interest in you—someone who really cares—makes a big difference.”

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