April 6, 2017

Wayne State's first Spirit of Community awards honor School of Medicine faculty and students

The Wayne State University School of Medicine was well-represented at WSU's inaugural Spirit of Community awards ceremony, with faculty and students winning three of four awards announced in the university's Community Arts Auditorium.

The March 23 event was a partnership between the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Alumni Association, Dean of Students Office, and the Division of Government and Community Affairs. The awards were created to honor members of the university who best exemplify the spirit of WSU's deep commitment to community engagement.

Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Oncology, received the Faculty Engagement Award.

(Watch Dr. Thompson's nomination video)

The focus of Dr. Thompson's work is engaging and impacting local communities to reduce health disparities. Most recently, she created Detroit HealthLink for Equity in Cancer Care to address cancer-related needs in Dearborn's Arab American community.

"In doing this work, this kind of recognition is the last thing that one thinks about. I'm very honored, and it was quite unexpected," Dr. Thompson said. "As a researcher who examines racial and socioeconomic disparities in cancer, this kind of community engagement is critical to the work that we do. I'm hopeful this event will continue to grow and encourage people to want to do more."

Tapinder Singh, a graduate student in the School of Medicine, received the Student Engagement Award. Singh founded the Wayne State chapter of Healthy Detroit in 2013 as an undergraduate student and, as chapter president, exemplifyies a commitment to service. The chapter brought the first HealthPark in the country to Detroit. The rotating park provides Detroit residents information about preventative health, and includes cooking classes, mental health programs, adult and youth fitness classes and more. Chapter members planned the logistics of the park opening, participate in health fairs in the city and mentor Detroit youth in the Racquet Up Detroit after-school program.

(Watch Tapinder Singh's nomination video)

Street Medicine Detroit's outreach program received the Project Engagement Award. Since its establishment in 2012, the program, a medical school student organization, has reached hundreds of individuals at various soup kitchens, shelters and on the streets of Detroit. The project aims to maintain the health of those in the community who may not have a primary care provider or health insurance. The basic medical care student members provide ranges from annual flu shots to antibiotics.

(Watch Street Medicine Detroit's nomination video)

LaShawndra Wrice, development operations coordinator for WSU's Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, received the Staff Engagement Award. She was honored for her various volunteer efforts, including her involvement in the annual lupus awareness campaign Put On Purple.

In total, there were 92 nominations submitted for the inaugural Spirit of Community Awards. A panel of one student, one staff member, one faculty member, one alumnus and one community leader evaluated nominations for each award, for a total of 20 judges across the awards.