Harvey Echols ’81
When asked why he supports his alma mater, Dr. Harvey Echols ’81 referenced a quotation by Barack Obama about people who claim to be “self-made.” He argues, as Obama did, that’s simply not the case.
“If people drive to your business, they got there on a road that you didn’t build in a car that you didn’t build,” Echols paraphrased.
Using that same logic, he said, “It’s disingenous for me to say that I got through Monmouth College by myself. For example, the people before me made my classrooms and equipment in H-T (Haldeman-Thiessen Science Center) possible.”
Now, Echols is in a position to make things possible fo rthe generations of students behind him. One way he hopes to do that is through a series of gifts he’s making to his alma mater. His sister, Chicago attorney Helena Echols-Carlson ’86, who’s married to 1988 alumnus Leonard Carlson, is also involved.
“We’ve started the Echols Family Prize,” he said. “My sister is giving also, so it’s a family thing.”
The purpose of the prize is to provide financial support for African-American students or other traditionally underrepresented minority students.
“I was a minority student, an African American, and I’m proud of that,” said Echols, who recently joined the College’s Board of Trustees. “I want to give toward helping people of color succeed at Monmouth. I won’t say people of color are in more need, but I will say they’re in great need. I want to give to help students enjoy the same benefits that I had.”
Echols said his Monmouth experience went beyond learning his way around a laboratory or a textbook.
“Two or three years before I started medical school, they changed their approach,” said Echols, who graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “Before, they were looking for students who got straight A’s. But over time, they realized thos etypes of people might be lacking in the communication skills necessary to be good doctors. They said, ‘We need doctors who can talk to people.’”
People, in other words, who were bright enough to withstand the rigors of medical school, but could also thrive in what Echols called “real-person” situations.
“At Monmouth, I received the academic training I needed, but I also developed the interpersonal skills I needed,” he said. “If I don’t give back, that makes me the ultimate consumer, but not a producer. I don’t want my tombstone to say, ‘Here lies Harvey Echols, the ultimate consumer.’ So that’s why I give.”
Echols recently moved to Plano, Texas, where he is the pharmacy medical director for Oscar Health, a national insurance company.