“I remember the phrase ‘Amherst Integrity,’” says Sabah Servaes, MD ’90. “It wasn’t hammered into your head, but it was an undercurrent, and I could see it over and over again in my interactions with people. I have kept that principal close to my heart.”
Just as integrity is essential to Amherst’s excellence, it is also foundational to Sabah’s life, career and philanthropy to the College. Immersed in her many roles at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was a pediatric radiologist, director of Body CT, and the fellowship and residency program director for the radiology department, Sabah was drawn to WVU Medicine Children’s, the first children’s hospital in the state of West Virginia, which opened in September 2022.
No children’s hospital in a place means no pediatric sub-specialists to provide care and a majority of doctors who have studied and practiced on adults, not kids. The opportunity to serve as vice chair of pediatric imaging and as a professor in the WVU Department of Radiology appealed to Sabah’s drive to make meaningful use of her 22 years of clinical and research experience. “Being able to care for children at a hospital dedicated to them was exciting, and I thought it would be a great learning experience as well as a chance to use the expertise I’ve developed,” she says. “All my education and training has built up to this.”
Amherst College was the bedrock. “I think a liberal arts education is ideal,” Sabah says, who triple-majored in anthropology, chemistry and mathematics. “The learning happens as you make your way through the College, and the independence and choice are part of the education. Getting to carve your own path through an open curriculum, choosing courses, picking majors, constructing your own way to learn—it all contributes. Amherst gives you the freedom not just to study what you want but also to develop skills in other areas. I was part of the crew team and played softball—things I may not have been able to do at another school.”
Sabah is committed to making the broad and deep education she got at Amherst available to more students. In 2014, in honor of her 25th reunion, she created the Sabah Servaes 1990 Scholarship Fund to support the College’s mission to bring together the most promising students of all backgrounds, particularly international students.
In 2020, she was an early supporter of the STEM Incubator, an intensive six-week program aimed at rising sophomores interested in research who are underrepresented in STEM disciplines. Her hope with this gift is to widen the net of people who enter the field while helping to establish Amherst as a nationally recognized center for training undergraduates in STEM research.
“The College talks about leading a principled life of consequence, and it’s the ‘principled’ part that speaks to me,” says Sabah. “If you’re doing something that’s thoughtful, impactful and in the spirit of Amherst integrity, that is a life of consequence.” There is no better example than Sabah’s own path of contributing in ways that matter and make a difference in the world.