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Fall 2010

Personalized Philanthropy

Meet two alumni who took very different paths to achieve the same end: scholarship support for students.

By: Marlene England
Date: October 1, 2010

Jack Silveira
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Jack Silveira ’57 capitalized on an old family property to aid today’s Hopkins Medicine students.

When alumni make scholarship gifts to the School of Medicine, the sentiments that spark their generosity are often similar. Many feel an obligation to help future generations of students follow their same path to success. They want to ensure that the School of Medicine continues to thrive. Likewise they are fulfilling the historical premise of scholarship aid first articulated by Johns Hopkins when this private institution was founded.

While the reasons for giving may be similar, the manner in which each gift is made can be strikingly different. Some make outright gifts of cash or securities, while others make planned gifts through IRAs, bequests, insurance, and life-income gifts. Donors are often surprised to learn how gift plans can be personalized to fit their circumstances and needs.

The path that led Jack Silveira ’57 to endow a scholarship fund began with two and a half acres of land, donated by his grandfather to help Portuguese-American immigrants build a community hall. When the group outgrew the building, the property was eventually inherited by Silveira.

The property, which originally cost $400, had appreciated significantly over the years.  Silveira collaborated with Hopkins to create a charitable remainder trust that provided an immediate tax deduction while generating income. He set up the trust to terminate on a specific date, at which time the remaining value was transferred to endow the scholarship fund. “I found the process to be so simple,” Silveira states. “Hopkins has such qualified people who make it an easy procedure—and it’s so gratifying.”

He reflects on the positive impact Hopkins had on his own career. “It seemed to open up doors for me, and I was grateful for what the name did for me when I was in practice,” he explains. “I wanted to make sure that worthy students were able to gain access to that same education, that someone really qualified gets the opportunity.”

Don Nicholson ’66 received such an opportunity when he was awarded a scholarship to attend the School of Medicine. The son of hardworking, middle-class parents, Nicholson remains grateful for the assistance he received—and is committed to providing the same opportunity for other students through the Howard and Rosemary Nicholson Scholarship Fund, named after his father and mother.  

His parents grew up as children of the Depression and neither had the means to complete a college education. “When they started their working lives, they were strongly focused on saving and investing to provide for their children the education that they weren’t able to have,” Nicholson says. “My parents put three children through college, two of the three through graduate school, and never once mentioned that it might have been a sacrifice.”

When Nicholson’s father lost his job at age 52, he bought a drive-in movie theater in Tennessee. He ran the concession stand while his wife sold tickets—365 nights a year, for the next 28 years.
After the death of his father, Nicholson took over the family finances and realized how much his parents had accrued through frugal spending and wise investing. As his mother was reviewing her will, Nicholson suggested that she allocate his share of the estate to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in order to establish a scholarship fund. “Hopkins helped us with all details of the bequest, pointing out, for example, that her IRA should comprise a portion of the assets bequeathed to Hopkins to lessen income tax liability for other beneficiaries,” notes Nicholson.

“She was initially resistant to the idea but agreed when she saw how much it meant to me,” he says. “I worked all my life as a university professor and was able to retire very comfortably. While I don’t have enough money to fund a professorship, with this modest amount I can leave a lasting memorial to my parents’ values and accomplishments.” 

To learn more about ways to make a gift to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, contact the Development and Alumni Relations Office at 410-516-0776 or, or visit