The path from a rice field in China—where Fong Clow, SM ’86, SD ’89, worked during the Cultural Revolution—to Harvard University was not a common one. But thanks to some prior medical training, a rare gift for mathematics, and an even rarer World Bank scholarship that allowed her to choose anywhere in the world to pursue her studies, Clow found her way to the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (then the Harvard School of Public Health) in 1984.
Learning English and adjusting to life in Boston were challenges early on. But with the generosity and practical help from many at the School—especially from her thesis adviser, Nan Laird, professor of biostatistics and Harvey V. Fineberg Research Professor of Public Health—she flourished. It is to honor Laird on the occasion of her retirement that Clow and her husband, Eric Clow, established the Fong Clow Doctoral Fellowship Fund in the Department of Biostatistics, through a $1 million charitable remainder trust that will provide an endowment for doctoral fellows in that department.
“The gift is very much in appreciation for the help I received from a lot of people,” says Clow. “It was a generous and supportive environment for me and really helped me excel.” Eric notes that the gift serves two purposes: giving back to the School and providing some security, independent of other investments, for the couple when they’re older. “When you look at who you have running an investment you will rely on for long-term security, having an entity like Harvard that has been around for 400 years provides some reassurance,” says Eric. “You don’t get a lot more stable than that.”
Eric and Fong Clow hope this gift can particularly help people facing the hurdles Fong once faced—international students full of promise but lacking the resources to pursue their professional dreams. As Fong says, “This can be a way that a whole succession of people in that situation can benefit in the way that I benefited.”
— Jan Reiss is assistant director of development communications and marketing.