Students from the Tufts schools of medicine, dental medicine, and nutrition were celebrated for their commitment to civic engagement.
An outstanding group of 49 graduates from Tufts’ health sciences professional schools were inducted last month into Honos Civicus, Tisch College’s unique honors society for active citizens who have combined academic and civic excellence throughout their time at the university.
A total of 20 students from the School of Dental Medicine, six from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and 23 graduates from Tufts’ medical school—22 MDs and one in the Master of Public Health and Professional Degrees program—officially joined Honos Civicus during a ceremony held at Tufts’ Boston campus. This was the second year that medical and dental students were inducted into the society, and the first occasion for nutrition and public health students.
“As members of the Tufts Honos Civicus Society, you are part of a growing network of health professionals, practitioners, and researchers who understand the importance of healing communities as well as individual patients,” said Tisch College Dean Alan D. Solomont, who served as host of the event. “Continuing the work you have begun as students, you can do a lot to remedy some of the ills that afflict our country and the world, and we expect no less of you.”
Dean Solomont highlighted the strong tradition of civic engagement at Tufts’ medical, dental, and nutrition schools, while the school deans praised their charges for their outstanding commitment to civic work and their lasting impact on the communities they served.
“The Friedman School has been dedicated to community service since its inception and it continues that tradition today,” said Robin Kanarek, former interim Dean of the School of Nutrition.
She lauded the six Honos Civicus inductees from Friedman for their work on initiatives like Let’s Get Moving, Jumbo’s Kitchen, the Quincy School Garden Project, and Friedman Students in Policy. “I have never seen students as dedicated to community service and to helping others; we really welcome what you have done for the School and for the University”
Dr. Harris Berman, Dean of the School of Medicine, likewise praised his students’ participation in programs like Ideas in Medicine, Tufts in Haiti, the Sharewood Project, and the Tisch College and Tufts School of Medicine Community Service Learning Program.
“Your work has had an impact on those organizations, it’s clearly had an impact on you, and in those organizations you’re leaving something enduring that those who follow you will be able to continue to grow.”
Ainsley Jones, M14, reflected on her civic engagement while at the medical school, which included volunteering with the Science Club for Girls, and acting as Service Chair for the Christian Medical Dental Society. Her most meaningful involvement was through TOPS (Teen Obstetrics Patients and their Students), which gave her the opportunity to mentor and support a young woman throughout her pregnancy.
“A lot of times in obstetrics, because there are so many appointments, you see a different provider each time, but I was able to be kind of the constant” said Jones. “She was pretty shy and withholding a lot from me in the beginning, but over time I built up that trust with her and we really became good friends.”
For Jones, forming that type of relationship with a patient was an important part of her medical education. “I think that a lot of the volunteer experiences teach you things that you don’t learn in the classroom. They teach you how to relate to patients and to other people; teach you their worries, and fears, and needs, and that really helps bolster the academic experience,” she said.
Fellow inductee Nicholas Gordon, D14, a dental graduate who completed his Master’s in Public Health, shared some thoughts about his civic engagement, much of which has been focused on attracting people of color to the dental profession and reducing health disparities among minorities and at-risk communities.
Gordon worked closely with the Tufts chapter of the Student National Dental Association, which holds an annual Impressions Day that brings to campus undergraduates and high school students, and exposes them to the wide array of careers in dentistry as well and provides an in-depth look at the dental school experience. The event is open to anyone, but focuses on attracting students from diverse communities.
“It’s been really rewarding,” said Gordon, who currently works at a community health center. “While I was there, at least four students who came to Impressions Day as undergraduates are now at Tufts Dental School. That’s the biggest thing that I’m proud of, being a part of that organization and opportunity to increased underrepresented minorities in dental school.
Gordon also participated in a School of Dental Medicine program in Haiti and will be returning there this summer before beginning a residency program in dental public health. He leaves Tufts with an appreciation for the university’s commitment to active citizenship and the opportunities that has afforded him.
“The Tufts community has been so supportive and welcoming of any ideas I’ve had, any ambitions I’ve wanted to do,” he said. “It’s something I try to share with other students; I feel indebted to Tufts for all the opportunities it’s given me.”
Huw Thomas, Dean of Tufts’ dental school, congratulated students like Gordon for their work abroad in places like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Zambia; as well as at home through projects like Sharewood, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the New England Center for Homeless Veterans.
“I think this is a wonderful achievement,” said Thomas. “I want you to commit that this is something that you’ll do throughout your careers. This is a lifelong pursuit.”
See more pictures from the ceremony on our Facebook page.