Last semester around this time, I walked across the stage with 198 of my fellow classmates, struggled clumsily to get my two arms in as I received my first white coat. This semester, I had the privilege to see the White Coat Ceremony from a completely new perspective. Yesterday, I volunteered as an usher for the ceremony. As the students prepared to walk on stage, I was assigned to fold the white coats of each student, primarily to make sure that they are unbuttoned, and placing the coats on the left arm of the recipient, with the AUC logo facing forward.
What I enjoyed most though, was getting to see each and every one of the new students in the January class, as they came up one by one and gave me the honor of draping their coats on their arms. Like from our class, there were faces from all over the world, and of all ages and stages in life. This semester, there are students from schools as different as Binghamton, Yale, and UC Davis. There are those who are fresh out of college, while others who already hold Master’s Degrees, and even JD and PhD. There are those who have already worked for numerous years in fields as different as being EMT, English teacher in Korea, and business owner. The diversity is amazing.
I really enjoyed this semester’s White Coat Ceremony. This semester boasted the largest number of inductees into the Alpha Omega Phi Honor Society in AUC history, with 41 new members. In order to be inducted, the student must have a consistently score above an 83 average, as well as take part in at least two major community service projects. The large number of students achieving this honor reflects the increasing caliber of the students attending as well as the increasing quality of the education AUC offers. Another news that was announced during the White Coat Ceremony is that this past semester, AUC reached a 95% first-time USMLE Step I pass rate, which is higher than many medical schools in the U.S. The average score at AUC is the same as the national average, and this past semester, 3 AUC students scored over 260 (which is beyond 99%)!
This semester’s White Coat Ceremony was also the first semester that they awarded the Dr. Karl Stockhausen Student of the Semester award, to a student who has shown outstanding commitment in getting AUC involved in helping the community. The award is named in memory of the late Dr. Karl Stockhausen, who was a graduate of AUC in 2008, less than two years ago. He made many great contributions to AUC as well as to the St. Maarten community, including starting a much-needed diabetes screening program for the island. He struggled with cancer for many years and unfortunately passed away last fall 2009. His memory lives on in the Karl Stockhausen Student of the Semester Award, given to the student who has shown this same commitment in helping St. Maarten as well as AUC become better communities for its people. Congratulations to Joe Fakoury for achieving this award.
I enjoyed the keynote speech by Dr. B, a family practitioner who will be teaching us ICM. She explained the significance of the white coat and used her life experiences going through medical training and practicing in the real world in explaining why we should remember to wear it with honor and pride. This is how a White Coat Ceremony speech should be, sticking to tradition in talking about the white coat, but adding the speaker’s unique story and style of prose to it as well. It was nice.
After the speeches and folding 89 of the 91 white coats (2 students already knew the drill and folded their coats in the proper fashion), I caught a ride with some of my friends and headed to the reception. This semester, it was at Bliss, and when I approached the entrance and saw tiki torches, I knew this semester’s reception will be different. Last semester, the reception was under white-clothed tents, housing tables draped in white table cloth. Last semester, there was class. This semester, there was style. Family, friends, students, and professors were all invited to an outdoor reception surrounded by tiki torches, strobe lights, and fancy outdoor couches lit with candles, all beside the ocean waves hitting against the rocks while Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” blasts in the background. The food was awesome, with chicken that fell off the bones and a rice dish cooked with coconuts and raisins. Everything about this reception said Caribbean. We really were on La Isla Bonita.
After spending quality time with friends and enjoying the food and the atmosphere, we left around 9:30pm. On the way out, I made a donation to AUC’s Haiti Earthquake relief fund at the entrance to the reception, one of several efforts by the Student Government Association and the school to help the several millions of people affected by the unfortunate recent events, including the family and friends of several of our students and staff. In times like this, we do what we can, and every little bit helps. As we left the donation box, the celebration continued behind us. This night was a special night for everyone, and it was all for the first-semesters. Congratulations, good luck, and welcome to AUC!
As of last week, the AUC student body has already raised $2839, which will go towards the Clinton-Bush Haiti Relief Fund. In addition, AUC is donating 150 jugs of drinking water from our Hurricane storage, and we have received a lot of clean clothes and can goods from the Haiti Earthquake Donation Bin in the Rotunda.