Husband-and-wife alumni share their appreciation for the Miller School
By Stacey Bomser
Photography by Matt Odom
Drs. Raul and Reena Blanco hope to help more Miller School students.
aul and Reena Blanco are ardent supporters of the Miller School of Medicine. Not only is the Miller School where they found their passion for their respective fields of medicine, but it is also where they discovered their love for each other.
The couple met while volunteering at a Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (Wolfson DOCS) health fair. Reena was a first-year student; Raul was in his third year.
“Raul walked me through my first pediatric exam,” said Reena Blanco, M.D. ’07, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of the Egleston Emergency Department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “But our romance did not begin until after the Florida Keys Health Fair. That night we all gathered at a bar, and Raul and I started talking. We ended up talking all night and then we walked to the beach and watched the sunrise.”
While their love story rivals that of any romance movie, the couple credits their experiences with the Wolfson DOCS program, and at the Miller School, for more than just sparking their relationship.
“The University of Miami was ahead of its time,” said Raul Blanco, M.D. ’05, a cardiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “Its teaching culture was evolving when I started. Students of different years interacted and mentored each other through our academic societies, as well as extracurricular activities such as Wolfson DOCS. Those leadership opportunities and immersive experiences were invaluable.”
The couple also value the mentorship they received from Mark T. O’Connell, M.D., then the senior associate dean for medical education and the founding faculty advisor for the Wolfson DOCS program, and Alex J. Mechaber, M.D. ’94, professor emeritus and former senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education.
“One of the main reasons why we started giving financially to the Miller School was because of Dr. Mechaber,” said Raul. “He sent out a plea to try to get alumni from the medical school to donate more than law school alumni as part of an interschool challenge.”
Ever since, the Blancos have committed to giving annually to the John K. Robinson Fund, which supports scholarships and travel grants for Miller School students.
“We contribute because we want UM to produce more doctors like us,” said Reena, who noted that both she and Raul received financial support while in medical school. “I 100 percent know I would not be the doctor I am today if it were not for the clinical acumen and education I received.”