Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine administrators, faculty, and staff assembled and distributed gift bags for more than 20 medical students spending the holiday season alone in southeast Michigan.

OUWB distributes ‘a little bit of cheer’ to medical students spending holidays alone
An image of a student receiving a gift bag
Jonathan Stone, M2, receives a gift bag Wednesday. OUWB administrators, faculty, and staff assembled and distributed gift bags for more than 20 medical students spending the holiday season alone in southeast Michigan.

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine administrators, faculty, and staff assembled and distributed gift bags for more than 20 medical students spending the holiday season alone in southeast Michigan.

The event was the first of its kind, prompted largely by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeping some students from traveling, but also by students who will be alone as a result of work, school, community, and/or clinical service commitments.

Robert Noiva, Ph.D., associate dean for Graduate Studies and Community Integration, said the gift bag giveaway was “was mainly out of a concern that we knew there were students that are stuck here.”

“If students don’t have roommates, can’t travel home because of the travel restrictions, or are remaining distant from loved ones who are high risk…the least we can do is provide a little bit of cheer,” said Noiva.

The bags were stuffed with goodies donated by OUWB faculty and staff. They included hot cocoa, various snacks, and a gift card to Panera Bread.

Katy Torma, office assistant for Admissions, was among the staff and faculty members who took time to help create the bags.

“It was an opportunity to not only interact with students, but support them if they’re really feeling distant from us,” she said. “That’s the whole point of OUWB…to be a family.”

Participating students drove to the campus of OUWB where they were greeted by faculty and staff.

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Monique Waltman, M3, was the first to pick up her bag. She said her favorite part of the event was seeing people she hadn’t seen in person since March, such as Tracey Taylor, Ph.D., interim assistant dean for Preclinical Medical Education and associate professor, Foundational Medical Studies.

“I was really excited to see them because I hadn’t seen them since my M2 year…we never got to say goodbye because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “It was really nice to see them.”

Zach Scherzer, M4, also picked up a bag. Scherzer said he and his wife — who is a nurse with exposure to patients who have COVID-19 — are staying away from family this holiday season out of an abundance of caution.

“To be able to come here and see everyone, and for them to be so nice and give us this gift, it means a ton,” he said. “It’s really nice to have the support of a family while away from home.”

Jonathan Stone, M2, said the gift bag giveaway was a big deal for him.

“One of the reasons I came to OUWB was for the community,” he said. “The fact that the faculty in the school is able to reach out on this level was great. I was accepted at some other schools that are so big, I don’t think they would have done anything like this.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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