First OUWB Family Night held at Meadow Brook Hall
An image from the OUWB Family Night 2023
Chris Carpenter, M.D., Stephan Sharf Interim Dean, OUWB, talks with M2s Joey Solomon and Kaitlyn Paez, during the OUWB Family Night held Dec. 2, 2023.

Spirits were high on Saturday when about 200 members of the OUWB community gathered for a first-of-its-kind event that brought together alumni, students, families and more.

The OUWB Family Night was held at Meadow Brook Hall in conjunction with the venue’s Winter Wonder Lights, which bills itself as “Michigan’s most dazzling outdoor event and holiday light show.”

Participants in the OUWB event gathered for a reception in the hall to connect and enjoy refreshments before taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the grounds of the National Historic Landmark at its most festive.

Speakers at the reception were Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., and Stephan Sharf Interim Dean Chris Carpenter, M.D., OUWB.

Carpenter said the event is representative of the OUWB community.

“Our medical students will be challenged in school and throughout the rest of their careers,” he said. “They need to have people around them who are supportive, and not just family, but classmates, faculty, and staff.”

“At an event like this especially, it’s easy to feel that kind of support,” he added.

Pescovitz thanked everyone for bringing their loved ones to what she called a “wonderful family experience.”

An image from OUWB Family Night 2023

Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., (left) spoke briefly during the OUWB Family Night. 

“To those of you who are alums, welcome back,” she said. “To those of you who are current students, thank you for being our students. We are so appreciative that you chose OUWB as your medical school.”

Alumni like Stephanie Goike, M.D., OUWB ’15, were in attendance with their families. Goike is an emergency medicine physician at Corewell Health Beaumont Hospital in Troy, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at OUWB, serves as the site director for OUWB at Troy, and is a mentor for members of the OUWB Class of 2024 through the school’s PRISM program. 

She attended family night with her husband, Joe, and two children who are three and six.

“We just love that this is such a good community,” she said. “We love that we can continue to be a part of it and grow with it as alumni and members of faculty…it just really speaks to the care that we have for each other as a community.”

Matthew Drogowski, M.D., OUWB ’19, attended with his wife, Amanda. Drogowski is an emergency medicine physician at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak, and president of the OUWB Alumni Chapter.

“Community is what draws many people here and (family night) really speaks to the med school’s sense of community and commitment to it,” he said. “I see everyone from first- and second-year med students to charter class alumni here…it’s just awesome to see this sense of community.”

An image from OUWB Family Night 2023

Duane Mezwa, M.D., former Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, holds one of his grandchildren while talking with Jon Chapman, M.D., OUWB '15, and his family.

Second-year medical student Ethan Dimock attended and called it a great opportunity to explore the “beautiful landmark.” The fact that he could do so with his family made it that much better, he added.

“The family aspect is something that’s integral to OUWB…not just with our immediate families but the family we have as classmates,” he said. “We go through the ups and downs together, and the ability to enjoy something fun like this is a great opportunity.”

Throughout the evening, families and friends of OUWB mingled and could be heard talking about everything from football and plans for the holidays to how much pride and joy they have in seeing their loved ones find success at the school.

Daria Majewski, sister of M2 Joey Solomon, said she was honored to be part of the event.

“I know he has absolutely loved his experience at OUWB because it’s helping him become a better person in preparation for being a physician who really cares about the whole patient,” she said.

Events like the family night help her see firsthand how OUWB cares about the members of its community.

Janis Ray, mother of M1 Kaelin Ray, expressed similar feelings.

“(Family night) is a great community builder, and a good way to get families together,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to meet parents of other students…it was also really nice to meet President Pescovitz.”

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Christina Rockwell was among a group of 10 family members that Duane Mezwa, M.D., former dean, OUWB, brought to the event. Rockwell is one of his daughters.

“It’s nice to be able to come back and engage with all of his friends and family here at the university,” she said. “We’re having a ton of fun…it says a lot about the school that it has an event like this.”

OUWB staff called the event a success.

Berkley Browne, Ph.D., associate dean, Student Affairs, said the event was one that “really highlights our values.”

“We often talk about how much we are a family and how much we are a community,” she said. “To have an event where we’re able to bring together our students, alumni, and their loved ones fosters a sense of belonging. That’s what makes an event like this special.”

Claus Weimann, senior director, Philanthropy, OUWB, called it “an ideal match for OUWB.”

“It provided a unique opportunity to not only engage our young base of alumni, but also create a joyful space for them, their families, and friends to celebrate the collective achievements of our OUWB community,” he said.

Jordan Nash, development associate, OUWB, said he “couldn’t be more thrilled” at how things turned out for the evening.

“So many of our alums now have families of their own, and it was incredibly heartwarming to witness them come together during the event,” he said. “It truly emphasized the sense of community and connection within the extended OUWB family.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

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

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.