First-year medical students win Upstate’s top writing honors

SUNY Upstate medical students Bioethics

These first-year medical students at Upstate won top honors at the 28th Bruce Dearing Writing Awards sponsored by the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. (L-R) Kaitlin Kyi, Makandiwana Shoniwa, Julienne Abad and Brielle Stanton.

Four first-year medical students at Upstate were honored at the 28th Bruce Dearing Writing Awards Wednesday.

The annual writing competition is sponsored by Upstate’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities. The students’ work, along with winning submissions in the faculty/employee category, will appear in the next issue of the CBH’s literary and visual arts journal, “The Healing Muse,” in October.

The top award for student poetry went to Brielle Stanton for “The Cough.” Honorable mention went to Makandiwana Shoniwa for “The Forging.”

The winner in the student category for prose was Kaitlin Kyi for her essay, “Roman Bridges.” Honorable mention went to Julienne Abad for “Valerie’s Secret.”

The winners read from their works during Wednesday’s ceremony in the Medical Alumni Auditorium. Upstate Interim President Gregory Eastwood, MD, cited the importance of the arts and humanities, which “give us great joy as we go about our daily lives.” Ideally, the arts are “a part of us, not just what we do in our spare time,” he said.

Student poetry winner Brielle Stanton said “The Cough” was a creative exercise in seeing things from a different perspective. The poem, she said, was an attempt to understand the point of view of her family members and friends who smoke cigarettes.

Kaitlin Kyi’s essay “Roman Bridges” recounted the emotional upheaval of taking care of her mother as she battled cancer, and “how very badly I wore the badge of caregiver,” Kaitlin said.

Faculty/employee winners were:

Poetry: Pamela Freeman, of the Clinical Skills Center, for “Where Does It Hurt.” Honorable mention went to medical resident (and Upstate graduate) Michael Daugherty, MD, for “Bittersweet.”

Prose: Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital family therapist Ruth McKay, MA, for her short story, “Innocence in the Face of Darkness.” Ann Botash, MD, professor of pediatrics, won honorable mention for her essay, “Grandma’s Yarn.”

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Students sell pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention Month

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine

Upstate medical student Kate Leyens, left, sells a pinwheel to fellow first-year Melissa Buchan in Weiskotten Hall. Kate is a member of the 'Docs for Tots' student pediatric interest group selling pinwheels to support the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photos by Jim McKeever.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and medical students in Upstate’s “Docs for Tots” group are selling pinwheels to support the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse.

The pinwheels are $1 each, and are on sale this week and next in Weiskotten Hall (schedule is below). The paper pinwheels will be displayed on the ninth floor of Weiskotten. For every one that’s sold, the students will plant a “garden” of blue plastic pinwheels in the Weiskotten courtyard the last week of April.

Every April, the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center participates in “Pinwheels for Prevention.” The goal is to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, and to increase the community’s ability to protect children through child abuse prevention and education.

Docs for Tots is made up of first- and second-year medical students interested in pediatrics and child-related community service opportunities. The group is advised by Ann Botash, MD, professor of pediatrics at Upstate and director of the Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation (CARE) program at Upstate’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The CARE program offers medical exams and forensic evidence collection for suspected abuse victims ages 18 years or younger. It also offers assistance with referrals to community agencies that provide victim advocacy services for families.

The CARE program has a number of activities scheduled to raise awareness, including a presentation next Tuesday by fourth-year medical student Matt Valente. Matt will speak at noon in Setnor 2507 about his volunteer experiences at McMahon/Ryan and about mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Pinwheels for sale!

Students in Upstate’s “Docs for Tots” group are selling pinwheels on the ninth floor of Weiskotten Hall during lunch hours. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday (April 9), and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday (April 10), plus Monday, Wednesday and Thursday next week (April 14, 16, 17).

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine

First-year medical student Victoria Kung, left, buys a pinwheel from Kate Leyens to support the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse and raise awareness about child abuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.


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Upstate students on the move again to support ‘Relay for Life’

SUNY Upstate

Students in Upstate's Radiation Therapy program are preparing for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in the Carrier Dome April 4.

Next Friday promises to be another late night for college students, but some of them — including those in Upstate’s Radiation Therapy program — won’t be out partying or cramming for an exam.

Rather, the evening of April 4 is dedicated to the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life inside Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome.

Once again this year, Upstate’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter is participating. To support them or join them,  go to the Relay for Life website and enter “SUNY Upstate” in the “Search for a Team” field.

Upstate captain Lauren Peterson, a student in the Radiation Therapy program, said the team hopes to raise $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. But it’s not just about the money, she said.

“We really want to spread awareness and promote prevention,” Lauren said. “My classmates and I have all been affected by cancer in some way, so this is very important to us. This event is a great way for people to get involved and informed about cancer. The money raised helps current and future cancer patients during many aspects of their treatment as well as continuing research.”

The Relay includes a “survivors’ lap” devoted solely to those living with cancer. “This is a great way to honor them and realize that cancer affects many people,” Lauren said. “Through Relay For Life we hope to prevent cancer and raise money to help as many people as we can.”

In addition to a steady parade of participants walking lap after lap on the turf around the perimeter of the football field, Relay for Life offers fun activities. There’s plenty of music, games and food to help keep walkers moving from 6 p.m. April 4 into the early morning of Saturday April 5.

There’s also a way for local hockey fans to add to Upstate’s contribution to Relay for Life at tonight’s Syracuse Crunch home game. Call the Crunch’s Courtney Asher at (315) 473-4444 ext. 18 to purchase a ticket, and mention Syracuse University’s Relay For Life and the Upstate team. For each ticket, $6 will be donated to the cause.

If you purchase a ticket at the War Memorial before the game, print out the flyer on this form and take it to the box office.

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Wait was worth it for this graduating Upstate medical student

SUNY Upstate Match Day

Khalia Grant, of Upstate's College of Medicine Class of 2014, wears her Match Day shirt announcing her residency match in pediatrics at Upstate. Khalia and more than 150 other members of the Class of 2014, along with graduating medical students nationwide, took part in the annual National Match Day last Friday.

Fourth-year Upstate medical student Khalia Grant paused for a moment before responding to a question about her undergraduate years at Smith College in Massachusetts.

“It was so long ago,” she said Friday afternoon, smiling and still enjoying Match Day festivities at Upstate. (Graduating medical students around the country learned Friday where they’ll spend the next several years as medical residents. Upstate’s graduating class, like many others, produced a “happy” video to mark the day.)

Khalia enrolled in Upstate in 2007 and completed her first two years of medical school. She then took time off to deliver her youngest son, and returned to Upstate three years later. After Khalia graduates in May, she’ll stay at Upstate to begin her medical residency in pediatrics.

“I built a real community within pediatrics, and have great relationships with every attending physician,” she said. “It’s the only place (among her clerkship sites) where it felt like home.”

Khalia always wanted a career that involved children, but she didn’t know she was headed for medicine until her junior year of college. As an education major with a concentration in art, she studied abroad and worked with hospitalized children in Jamaica.

Khalia liked it so much, she changed her thesis and focused on pre-med courses. The Poughkeepsie native completed some post-baccalaureate work at SUNY New Paltz to finish prerequisites for medical school.

“College is not the place to decide how you want to spend the rest of your life, even though that’s what it’s intended to do,” she said. “It’s really not the place to find yourself. … When I was 18 to 22, I had no idea what I wanted to do.”

Khalia marvels at the many medical students who set their sights on medicine early on and never waver. Even though she’s a few years older than many of her classmates, Khalia sees those intervening years as an investment in herself and in her family.

She’s happy she took the path she did, comparing those years to “stopping and smelling the roses.”

Khalia is looking forward to spending the next few years learning and treating kids in Upstate’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. It’s a special place with a positive environment fostered by dedicated people who simply love children, she said. “You feel great staying there and working there for the whole day.”

Khalia also chose to stay in Syracuse because her three children, ages 4 to 10, are already established in school and preschool. “It made sense for me to stay,” she said.

SUNY Upstate Match Day

Khalia Grant's family was on hand for the Match Day celebration in Weiskotten Hall. Photo by Richard Whelsky.



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