Class of 2019 begins orientation with two extra days of events

August 6, 2015

For the 355 members of the Class of 2019, this year's IUSM orientation lasted a little longer and was a little more fun than past years. Students started the week's events with a voluntary canoe outing at Eagle Creek Park, a cook-out and mixer, and a morning of service at Gleaners Food Bank.

As part of IUSM orientation, first-year medical students volunteered at Gleaners Food Bank. | Photo By TIM YATES

All the while, students were proudly "showing their colors" -- and they weren't cream and crimson. The colors - yellow, red, green and blue -- correspond to College and House assignments, new this year to IUSM. The student-led initiative organizes students by campus and quadrant of the state where they will be assigned to a campus. The program is designed to increase opportunities for mentoring, networking, engagement and will provide some good-natured competition among the groups. This student-led initiative is explained in a video starring members of the Medical Student Council.

Wednesday's service project at Gleaners Food Bank brought about 170 students to the southwest side warehouse where food is sorted and distributed to food pantries, schools and other locations in 21 counties in central and southeastern Indiana.

Gleaners' staff shared information about hunger with the students to let them know how valued their contribution is: more than 300,000 Hoosiers are struggling with hunger and Gleaners provides access to 20 million meals a year. Last year alone, 4 million pounds of fruits and vegetables were distributed and 10,000 school-aged children received BackSacks on Fridays to supply nutrition to them for the weekend. In 2014, Gleaners' Commodity Supplemental Food Program distributed over 24,000 boxes of food to seniors and the Mobile Pantry Program made more than 300 distributions, providing 2.4 million meals.

The IUSM students rolled up their sleeves and made a dent in the Gleaners' workload by packing BackSacks, sorting dry goods as well as fresh and frozen foods kept in the coolers, packed boxes and operated skid loaders packed with crates of food. In less than 3 hours, the students

  • Packed 3,173 BackSacks.
  • Sorted 14,023 pounds of dry goods.
  • Sorted 24 skids (averaging 500 pounds) of fresh and frozen food.

Columbus, Ind., native Brandon Muckley, PharmD, and a graduate of Purdue University, said he had spent two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti this summer so volunteering at Gleaners was a no-brainer. "I like opportunities to volunteer and this coincided with an opportunity to meet a ton of my classmates before all the craziness starts," he said.

Elive Libine, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., and a University of Michigan graduate, said he volunteered because he wanted to "get out in the community" and learn more about volunteer opportunities. Libine said he had a friend who is attending IUSM and he selected this school because he "likes the idea of big class sizes because you can learn a lot from people from different environments."

Sherene Lattimore, a native of Long Island, N.Y., and a graduate of Hampton (Vir.) University, picked IUSM for the opposite reason -- she liked the idea of smaller regional campuses. "When I was choosing, I was looking for opportunities for mentoring with smaller class sizes. IUSM has so many campuses that fit my needs with a more tight-knit, warm and inviting feeling." She was volunteering at Gleaners because it was an "amazing opportunity -- I belong to a sorority that does public service and it was nice that IU scheduled this during orientation."

Sotirios Karathanasis, an M.D./Ph.D. student currently working in the neurosciences lab of Jinhui Chen, M.D., Ph.D., had little time to spare as he pushed a full skid loader from one area to another in the massive warehouse. He didn't think twice about spending the morning at Gleaners. "It's something that you feel deep down, you have to volunteer," he said.

After the busy morning, the Gleaners crew returned to the IUPUI campus for a debriefing in Hine Hall auditorium and opportunities to learn more about activities available for service projects and special interest activities at an Involvement Expo.

Thursday and Friday schedules mirrored more traditional orientation activities, culminating with the White Coat Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. IUSM Dean Jay L. Hess, M.D., Ph.D., will welcome the incoming students and their families and deliver the keynote address before the students walk across the stage to don the white doctor's coat which symbolizes clinical service.