Niles West Announced its 2023 Distinguished Alumni!


* * Distinguished Alum 2023 * *
Dr. Philip Zazove, Class of 1969

Philip Zazove was born essentially deaf though it wasn’t discovered until he was 4.  He was the first deaf person mainstreamed in public schools in the Northern Chicago suburban area. Similarly, after high school, several colleges rejected him because of his deafness. During all those years, he encountered many challenges and obstacles related to his condition and his consequent speech “accent.” Nevertheless, he succeeded.

Despite his excellent academic record at Northwestern University, Philip encountered rejection in his first thirty-four medical school applications. Undaunted, he persevered and was accepted at Rutgers Medical School.  He later transferred to Washington University in St. Louis where he received his M.D. degree.  As far as we know, he’s the third deaf physician in America.  Philip did his residency at the University of Utah Hospitals in Family Medicine received his Executive MBA from Northwestern a few years later.

After 8 years of private practice, Philip’s wife (also a physician) was recruited to be on the faculty at the University of Michigan.  He also joined the faculty, where after a year-long, national search, he was eventually selected Chair of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Due to his intellect and love of learning, his downright grit and his desire to serve others in medicine writ large, especially in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community along with the general disability community.  His inordinate proclivity to find ways to improve their lives through various efforts including pioneering research and philanthropic leadership combined make Philip a most deserving candidate for this recognition. He has authored and published close to 100 peer-reviewed medical articles and chapters and has written two books.  His first one, “When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes: Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor”, is an insightful read about his experiences along the way from his youth to his quest to becoming and practicing as a doctor.  The second is a novel featuring a deaf protagonist.  He has presented at numerous conferences and settings worldwide, with a focus on improving the health of people with disabilities.  Philip has taken on numerous local, state and national leadership roles, many of them geared to improve the lives of people with disabilities as well as to improve the health of all Americans.  He has also won multiple national awards for his service and work.

Philip’s sterling character, his indomitable spirit and exemplary concern for others comprise a set of intangibles which match his praiseworthy body of lifetime achievement in the face of his disability. His fabulous curriculum vitae would make him an exceptional candidate even if he had no hearing barriers. The hand he was dealt magnifies and makes more inspiring all that he has accomplished. He, along with his family, created a foundation 20 years ago which annually grants scholarship assistance to hearing-impaired college students. The number of awardees has grown over time, and there have been over 50 recipients of these grants of up to $16,000 thousand dollars per person over four years.

Philip and his wife have two daughters, four grandchildren, and two dogs.  He enjoys cross country skiing, kayaking, golf, good books, writing books and spending time with friends.

Niles West Distinguished Alumnus Award 2022-2023 Nomination

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to select Niles West alumni. The selection is made by a committee of current Niles West students and members of the Education Foundation, based on the following criteria:

1. graduated from Niles West
2. attended at least three years of high school at a District 219 high school (this can also include Niles East),
3. has made a significant contribution to his or her field and/or in the community, and
4. had a meaningful experience as a student at Niles West High School.

The recipient of this award will be asked to attend our annual Senior Accolades program to accept their award and give a brief speech about their experiences in high school and post high school. The accolades ceremony will take place on May 17 at 7:00 PM . At this ceremony, current students are also recognized for their accomplishments in areas of athletics, scholarship, and community engagement.

Previous nominations are taken into consideration each year. Nominations are accepted until February 28, 2023. Questions about this award, the nomination process, or selection process can be sent to Sarah Struebing [email protected].

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
(2010 to Present)

2023 – Dr. Philip Zazove, ’69
2022 – Michelle Mekky, ’89
2021 – Amin Lakhani ’07
2020 – Megan Goldish, ’89
2019 – Brett Kopf, ’05
2018 – Marcy Lerner Steindler, ’77
2017 – Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, ’63
2016 – Judge Merrick Garland ’70
2016 – Dr. Robert A. Ganz, ‘72
2015 – Rich Beckman, ’72
2014 – Tom ’86 and Dita, ’86 (Jusufi) Merkel
2013 – Howard Sandroff, ’67
2012 – Dennis Hu, ’07
2011 – Judy Hsu, ’88
2010 – Dr. Steven Dayan, ’85