Spending a Day with Fifth Graders

BY SHANNON WATKINS’08
CO-PRESIDENT, AMA MEDICAL STUDENT SECTION

IMAGINE THIS: 30 FIFTH GRADERS FROM THE BRONX, RUNNING up and down the steps of Butler, trying out the library seats, reading books in “Chinese,” and enthusiastically asking questions about what college is like. This was the scene when the P&S chapter of the American Medical Association-Medical Society of the State of New York held an outreach program Jan. 27, 2006.
     We P&S students invited fifth graders to visit the Morningside and medical center campuses to promote higher education and healthy living.
     “You can study whatever it is you like in college, whether it is chemistry, magic of the Middle Ages, or African drumming ... live next door to your friends ... and charge your meals on a little ID card ... college is great and there is
 Spending a Day with Fifth Graders
  Many of the Bronx fifth graders who visited
  Columbia want to be doctors, so Neelesh
  Chudasama’08 taught them some basics —
  testing their reflexes and listening to their hearts
  and lungs.
something for everyone!” we told the fifth graders.
     “Who wants to go to college?” we asked. All of them raised their hands. Some want to be doctors, some vets, and others teachers. Their enthusiasm was refreshing.
     After a tour of the undergraduate campus, we took them back to our medical center campus and held small group activities to promote healthy eating, exercise —including some yoga — and the pursuit of careers. We even taught them some physical diagnosis 101.
     We were so lucky to be able to share a day and some of our own life experiences with these kids. At the end of the day, we even got a taste of celebrity life as the kids eagerly bombarded us with requests for photographs and autographs.
     Their teacher, Annica Schroeder, summed it up this way: “You have no idea what an impact you had on these kids. They all want to go to Columbia now and were extremely inspired by how fun college seems. Our bully came back to the classroom and wanted to know how to spell yoga. They loved all of you. You are stars. Thank you so much.”

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