February 15, 2013

Student Senate salutes Golden Apple awardees at annual gala

Wayne State University School of Medicine students, faculty and alumni gathered Feb. 9 at the Student Senate Gala 2013, a formal celebration that recognized the efforts of the student body as a whole, and honored individuals who made significant contributions to the greater good of the school and community.

Attendees enjoyed a festive evening of dinner, dancing and socializing at Motor City Casino Hotel in Detroit. Two students, a faculty member and a staff member received the senate's coveted Golden Apple awards, including fourth-year medical student Paul Thomas.

Thomas helps coordinate community outreach activities performed by the Aesculapians Honor Society, among other extracurricular activities and volunteer efforts. The Aesculapians Honor Society is an honorary student-run service organization devoted to giving back to the city of Detroit and the School of Medicine.

"It was a great honor to receive the Student Golden Apple Award, but it is a far greater honor to call the students at Wayne State my peers and future colleagues in medicine. They are talented, diligent and compassionate, and from them I have learned much about integrity, leadership and the art of medicine," Thomas said.

The Student Golden Apple Award is given to students who have developed an understanding of the art of medicine as displayed by the care and understanding of patients. The students balance scholastic achievement with outstanding patient care, community service and leadership qualities.

Second-year medical student Jonathan Wong received the night's second Student Golden Apple Award for his founding of Street Medicine Detroit, a new WSU student organization that brings health care directly to Detroit's homeless living on the streets and in shelters.

"I was completely blown away by the award -- I never would have expected it. I do think though, that an organization really is the sum of its people," Wong said. "While it is a tremendous honor to receive the award, it would be far more fitting for our entire board to receive recognition, too. I've loved working with our team and our partners at Neighborhood Service Organization. We really do have a special group and we've developed an amazing team-oriented culture. None of our work in the community would have been possible if it wasn't for everyone involved."

The senate honored Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development Lisa MacLean, M.D., with the Faculty Golden Apple award, given to a professor or clinician who continuously strives to help students reach the highest academic excellence and inspires them to be better clinicians.

"I was honored and surprised to receive this award," she said. "I have been at the School of Medicine for just over a year. Being recognized by the students is a tremendous honor and one I will always cherish."

Ron Spalding, chief administrative officer for the School of Medicine's Office of Medical Education, received the Staff Golden Apple Award because of his tireless dedication and enthusiasm for making the School of Medicine a better place for students to live and learn in, organizers said.

"I was very surprised and honored that the students chose me for this year's staff award. Of all my responsibilities, working with the students to improve the quality of our learning environment is the most rewarding," he said.

In addition, Charles Lucas, M.D., Class of 1962, was the evening's guest of honor, and received the Student Senate Alumni Appreciation Award, which recognizes an alumnus who has generously invested time and knowledge back into the school. Dr. Lucas, a practicing surgeon and professor of Surgery, was recognized for his surgical knowledge and dedication to the School of Medicine and its students.

He compared the role of the long-tenured boarding school teacher in James Hilton's "Goodbye Mr. Chips" to his own efforts at WSU, which include teaching physicians-in-training in a manner that reveals maximum potential, he said.

"When the teacher is recognized for this effort by receiving the Golden Apple Award, the efforts put out to stimulate the students to their maximal potential is rewarded tenfold," he said. "This stimulates the teacher to become even more aggressive in stimulating the future students. As I warned the freshman and sophomore students that evening, this was not about 'Goodbye Charlie Lucas.'"

The event was sponsored by School of Medicine administration, including Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.