Hard work, long hours, years of expensive training — that’s the life of a medical student. On top of that, imagine being a medical student raising several children. Susan S. Huckabay and her late husband, Durward A. (“Huck”) Huckabay, Jr., didn’t have to use much imagination to picture that scenario. It is part of their family history.

Huck’s father, Durward A. Huckabay, was in medical school in the early 1900s when his parents died, leaving him responsible for orphaned siblings. He and his wife took them in. “That was truly a fiscal hardship,” says Susan S. Huckabay.

It’s a story that Anthony Guynes, a 36-year-old second-year medical student and father of three — and a recipient of the Durward A. Huckabay, M.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund — can relate to. For Guynes, going to medical school is an all-family commitment, and a costly one. Without the scholarship the Huckabays created a number of years ago, Guynes says, he’d graduate with more than $300,000 in debt. “It really makes a difference to have other people helping us,” he says.

In 2011, the Huckabays made another gift to scholarship: a $1 million challenge gift, established to encourage others to contribute through matching contributions. Over the past few months, a number of people have stepped forward.

Ann Ramsay-Jenkins, chair of UW Medicine’s Scholarship and Student Support Committee and vice chair of the College Success Foundation’s Board of Directors, was among the first to meet the challenge. With her late husband, William (Bill) Jenkins, she has been a longtime supporter of medical student scholarships at the UW School of Medicine.

“Bill and I have always believed in giving a hand up, particularly to bright young people with big dreams,” Jenkins says. She is also interested in freeing students from crushing loan debt. Such debt may steer students away from practicing primary care, especially in rural and underserved areas where doctors are very much needed.

Ruth Fischer-Wright, M.D. ’87, Res. ’90, has similar thoughts about medical practice. “You can make more money in other specialties, but primary care is invaluable to our communities,” she says.

When Fischer-Wright and her husband, Craig L. Wright, M.D. ’88, Res. ’91, made a commitment to the Huckabay challenge, they opted to support third-year students interested in primary care. Their gift is motivated partially by empathy. As medical students, the couple lived from loan check to loan check, and they vividly recall how quickly money dwindled after paying for books and rent. “That was one of the things that attracted us — providing medical students with a little money during their training, rather than living on loans,” says Craig Wright.

Wright and Fischer-Wright look forward to learning more about the students who will benefit from their scholarship — just the sort of contact that Susan Huckabay has enjoyed. Every year, she and her family receive many inspiring letters from students who benefit from the Huckabay Scholarship.

“I have every single letter that I have ever received,” Huckabay says. A thank-you letter from a grateful Anthony Guynes is certainly in the file.

“Having people like the Huckabays who are willing to share the burden with us — and just knowing that there are people invested in my education and my family’s well-being — it’s really a motivation and an encouragement,” says Guynes.

Scholarship recipient Anthony Guynes, a former pastor, says that medical school is a family affair — and he and the kids are having fun learning about medicine together. Pictured, from left to right, are Guynes’ wife, Beth, a public health nurse, Quinnson (8 weeks), Shaylah (5), Josiah (7), and Guynes.