The Rene and Brian McCoy Cancer Recovery Research Monarch Fund

The Rene and Brian McCoy Cancer Recovery Research Monarch Fund is a philanthropic effort to provide a scholarship for students in STEM who are attending Hamline University.

The Monarch Fund was brought to being by the work of Brian McCoy whose late wife, Rene McCoy, sadly passed away from cancer. Brian has made it his mission to help fight the disease by providing financial assistance to a selected student of Hamline University every year.

From the McCoy Monarch Fund website:

Worldwide, there are about 19.3 million cancer cases reported annually— in 2020 alone, 10 million deaths due to cancer. These are harrowing numbers, and curbing them requires greater effort and research towards finding a cure.

You may have noticed the word ‘Monarch’ or the image of the butterfly with lavender ribbons our logo. The butterfly symbolizes renewal and hope, and that is exactly why we set up the Rene and Brian McCoy Cancer Recovery Research Monarch Fund – to inspire hope and encourage Hamline University students to help transform cancer research. Lavender ribbons represent support for all types of cancer.

This endowment was created to honor Rene McCoy’s last wishes. She wanted to help support undergraduate students at Hamline University who engage in collaborative cancer research with faculty in the sciences. Preference is given to projects related to cancer recovery or other medical innovations.

The Monarch Fund’s First Recipient

For our podcast, the California Work Comp Report, we interviewed the first recipient of the McCoy Monarch Fund scholarship, Zachary Griebel. We had Zach on because we wanted to know what he is interested in, with respects to his work at school.

“I am interested in research that helps people. I just love the idea of taking the opportunities I’ve been blessed with all the hard work I’ve been putting in with school and using all of that to just try to make the world a better place and just help people who need it.”

He told us a bit about what drew him to Hamline University.

“I learned they had an amazing physics program there. I met some of the faculty on some visits and everything, and I fell in love with the place, wanted to spend the next four years there.”

Being a Student at Hamline University

And we asked about the work that he’s doing there, and his relationship to the faculty and staff.

“I work super closely with the professors. I have two on my research team that have a ton of experience in all sorts of research. And I work with them depending on what part of the process we’re at. Sometimes I’ll work with them every single day, or sometimes they are in more of a supervisor role where I work throughout the weekend report, what I found and how things are going once a week. And then when we kind of get towards the end, they are super involved in the writing the paper process.”

How the Monarch Fund Helps

College is an expensive venture. Attending is not just a matter of tuition, it includes the expenses of day-to-day life. Zach told us the ways in which the McCoy Monarch Fund scholarship helps alleviate some of those expenses.

I wanna spend as much time on [research] as I can, but at the same time I have to pay bills. I gotta pay rent. So what the research fund does is it pays me for the hours that I work. And that allows me to spend the majority of my time in the summer. And even during school, focusing on the research that I’m doing, it allows me to not necessarily need other jobs or spend a lot less time outside of my research. And it just lets me put my best foot forward whenever I’m working on it.

Realizing the Dream

In keeping with the original vision for the fund, we asked Zach what motivates him to do the work he’s doing now.

“I love doing the medical side of things where I’m, it’s a clear, direct correlation to where if I’m working hard, I’m trying to help people…
one thing I’ve definitely found through this research is I just love the idea of trying to help people with whatever work I’m doing. “

Since Zach is the first of many recipients to come for the McCoy scholarship, we asked if he had any advice for the future recipients.

“The best advice I could say is don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to admit if you are unsure or don’t know something. So the whole point of student researching is yes, to hopefully end up with a successful research project with a found solution. But it’s what I have learned is it’s also a time for students to one learn how to be an adult, learn how to work in the whatever fields you’re in. And then also it’s a time to just learn about the research process and understand there’s failures, how to learn from failure, understand just what that whole process looks like.

… And a lot of us start doing this at 19 or 20 years old. We have people who have done the research for 20 to 30 years. It’s okay to ask them questions. It’s okay to not have the answer to every single thing, cause we’ve never done this before. “


The McCoy Monarch Fund was established to help students, so that the world can be a better place. We believe that Zach was a very good choice as a recipient.

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