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The Excellence in Leadership awards recognize the hard work our colleagues have put into various student interest groups, committees, and service projects over the past year.

Celebrating the Winners of the 2020 Excellence in Leadership Awards at IU School of Medicine

a diverse group of students poses for a photo during a 7 Elements trip

Students on an international trip with 7 Elements.

In a time of uncertainty about the future, reflecting about the past becomes difficult. Even though the end of the 2019-2020 academic year came to a tumultuous halt, the leaders of the Medical Student Council (MSC), Medical Student Service-learning Group (MSSG) and Wellness Coalition (WC) wanted to ensure that we took the time to recognize the hard work our colleagues have put into various student interest groups (SIGs), committees, and service projects over the past year.

Across 21 award categories, we acknowledge the events, organizations and individuals that have made a notable impact through community and student engagement. We had an astounding number of nominations, especially for the individual awards, showing the appreciation we have for each other across the state. Nominated by our peers and finalized by the executive leadership of MSC, MSSG, and WC, we are proud to present the winners of the 2020 Excellence in Leadership Awards.

Eight events were honored with awards:

  • The annual St. Vitus dance put on by the St. Vitus Committee was recognized for both Outstanding Campus Event of the Year as well as Best Social Event of the Year.
  • The IUD Placement Workshop led by Medical Students for Choice, Family Medicine SIG, and OB/GYN SIG won for Best Collaboration of the Year, providing personal insertion kits and hands-on training to students across the state.
  • Boys and Girls Club put on a Valentine’s Day Event to teach children about the heart and blood vessels, winning Outstanding Educational Event of the Year.
  • For Outstanding Philanthropic Event of the Year, we are proud to recognize St. Margaret’s House Trivia Night put on by the American Medical Women’s Association of South Bend, benefiting a local women’s shelter and engaging students, professors, and community members.
  • Highlighting another culture, the Muncie Medical Spanish SIG won Outstanding Multicultural Event of the Year for their Día de los Muertos celebration to honor the Latinx holiday and provide insight about cultural competency in medical care.

students at the dia de los muertos event

  • The Vital Healing Project won Outstanding Wellness Event of the Year for their event on Snap Judgments: How to Manage Implicit Bias, allowing faculty, residents and students to share personal stories with each other in a safe space.
  • Bringing together students around the state, the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) – Medical Student Section won Outstanding Intercampus Event of the Year for their Be the Match bone marrow registration campaign.
  • In collaboration with ISMA, the American Medical Association (AMA) chapter at IU School of Medicine put together the two-day AMA Regional Conference here in Indianapolis and was attended by 150 students across five states. For their hard work and dedication, they received Outstanding Large-Scale Event of the Year.

Five organizations were honored with awards:

  • With weekly clinics bringing free care to the east Indianapolis community, the Indy Student Outreach Clinic was recognized for the Community Outreach award.

students volunteering at student outreach clinic

  • In times of stress and uncertainty, Wellness Coalition reached out to students to promote well-being and self-care, thereby winning the Student Engagement award.
  • 7 Elements brought together students of various backgrounds for their international trips and was thus recognized for the Inclusivity award.
  • Reaching across the state for their Be the Match bone marrow registration campaign, ISMA also won the Statewide Engagement award.
  • Recognizing an organization created within the last two academic years, Admission Ambassadors of South Bend was highlighted for the New Organization Award for their dedication to provide potential candidates a more robust admissions experience at the South Bend campus.

Seven individuals were honored with awards. We have also included quotes for these individuals from nominations to recognize the impact these individuals have had on IU School of Medicine students.

  • Mohammad Aref won Distinguished Advocate for his work with the Student Outreach Clinic. This year, he served on the SOC Board as the Research Chair.

“I am constantly inspired by the passion and kindness that Mohammad exhibits for the patients and volunteers of the IU Student Outreach Clinic. He consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of him, volunteering at the clinic almost every week. On the board, he has been a consistent voice of wisdom and clarity, helping to ensure that the clinic stays true to its mission of providing high quality care for the community and an excellent educational opportunity for its volunteers. Most importantly, he has been an exemplar of compassion and humanism, getting to know our patients beyond their medical diagnoses. The care and investment he shows for these patients sets a tone for the rest of our volunteers. He will be sorely missed once he graduates.”

  • Megan Chiu won Distinguished Student Leader for her work as President of Medical Student Council. Breaking barriers as a president from a regional campus, Megan has also been involved with ISMA-MSS and helped develop the new COVID-19 course taken by Phase 2 and 3 students.

“Megan Chiu is an individual that has met and exceeded these qualities far beyond any other medical student I have ever met. Her constant level of measured professionalism, compassion, and empathy is apparent in every organization that she touches and every individual she interacts with. To top it all off, the leadership skills she demonstrates throughout her many positions is a true testament as to what leading by example looks like. She is an individual I constantly find myself speaking to for advice, and she has never once turned me away no matter how many questions I may have. If I could list off the qualities of a leader, I would basically describe Megan because those are the best qualities to describe her character.”

  • Faith Roberts and Punit Vyas both were recognized as Emerging Leaders, taking on leadership roles as first-year students

“Faith is a class officer in Indy who has been an exemplary leader. She is constantly thinking of new and creative way to engage her Indy classmates. One of my favorite things that I saw she did for her class was a New Years Toast, to toast to the new year and new semester. One of the best ways I would describe Faith is that she is a PRESENT leader. She is always at events that are being put together for the first year class and other student lead initiatives. She is constantly representing her class at ODA events, and she is always there to lend a helping hand. As a student leader, being present can go a long way.”

“Punit has been working behind the scenes…with the IUEM SIG. He is assisting them with their wellness surveys of their department, doing a lot of data gathering on their wellness and experiences right now, and has been advocating for medical student involvement in helping out with physicians on the front lines in the form of childcare, e-learning, and the like. He is doing anything he can to help out as a first year. Additionally, he has been getting our peers and friends to join the zoom workouts hosted by Mind Body Medicine and as a result, many are tuning into workout classes and tending to their personal wellness during this stressful time. He has been a source of inspiration for me personally…!”

  • Noelle Witwer won the Unsung Hero award for her work with the Wilderness Medicine and PMR SIGs

“Noelle is incredibly hard working and is inherently a problem solver. She stepped up in both the Wilderness Medicine and PMR SIGs when a leader was needed even while balancing the intensity of third and fourth year rotations. I can confidently say that neither of these RSOs would be running nearly as well (or quite possibly at all) without her tireless effort and uncanny ability to coordinate the people she works with. I also know Noelle outside of working with her in an RSO and can personally vouch for the exceptional amount of positivity and compassion she demonstrates both on and off the wards on a daily basis. She is always working to improve the groups she is a part of and is always willing to take more than a fair share of the work. In South Bend, she frequently volunteered at the local outreach clinic and was one of two students to set up a Christmas fundraiser for a local homeless shelter; she did neither of these things for the recognition or as a CV boost, but rather because they were the right thing to do. Noelle is truly an exceptional student, colleague, and friend…”

  • Michael Harding won for Visionary Leadership, for his work with initiating both the South Bend Admissions Ambassador program and the Walk with a Future Doc organization as well as his service as a Slemenda Scholar.

“Michael Harding…identifies needs for our campuses and will create opportunities for people to enact change…He noticed a need for healthier lifestyles and thus Walk with a Future Doc was created. The Walk with a Future Doc organization focuses on students promoting healthy lifestyles through exercise each Saturday morning around the community with residents of said community. This gives our students opportunities to engage with the community and foster an active and healthy lifestyle to hopefully benefits future patients’ overall health. While this group is no longer allowed to meet due to the COVID guidelines, the success of this group can be best shown that within a year of creation, another neighborhood reached out about creating a similar program to foster health lifestyles.

  • Kristen Heath won Outstanding Advisor for her work with Wellness Coalition.

“She cares not only about the academic performances of students but more importantly the overall well-being of students. She has demonstrated that by leading various wellness sessions and other stress relieving techniques.”

  • Dr. Emily Walvoord won Outstanding Faculty or Staff Advocate

“Dr. Walvoord is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of educator to me. I have had the privilege to work with her throughout my time at IUSM and she's never been anything short of pleasant, respectful, and understanding. She embodies what it means to be a dean of IUSM, evident through her actions and advocacy for the betterment of the student population. I hope one day to be able to be a physician with a fraction of her class and dedication.”

Congratulations to all our 2020 Excellence in Leadership Award winners!

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Nimisha Kumar

Nimisha Kumar is a rising MS4 and President of the Medical Student Service-learning Group. Having grown up in several different parts of the Greater Indianapolis area, she views service as a way to give back to the community that gave her so many opportunities. She is passionate about facilitating opportunities for IU School of Medicine students to get involved with service projects around the state. Outside of medical school, Nimisha enjoys dabbling in different art forms, including cross stitching, weaving, and painting.