Student organization at OUWB holds ‘pretty intense’ basketball fundraiser
An image of players in the basketball tournament
M1 Claire Baguley makes a move to get past OUWB Professor James Grogan, Ph.D., during the basketball tournament held Oct. 13, 2023.

An Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine student organization recently held a basketball tournament that raised funds for a medical humanitarian organization.

OUWB’s Global Health Advocates (GHA) hosted the event on Oct. 13 at Oakland University’s Recreation Center.

All the players in the basketball tournament were either OUWB medical students or faculty. Further, several faculty and administrators served as coaches.

Nearly $1,000 was raised via player and spectator entry fees.

Deena Sukhon, M2, vice president and community outreach chair, GHA, said the idea was to have fun for the benefit of those in need around the world.

“There is a lot we want to get done in terms of global work, but it’s hard to directly be involved in that kind of work as a medical student…you don’t have the time to travel nor the budget,” she said. “We thought the best we could do is try to raise money to best support our friends in need outside of the U.S.”

Dhun Chauhan, M2, co-president, GHA, called the tournament a great opportunity for medical students to de-stress.

“In medical school, you’re often focused on studying and it can be hard to find time to go to the gym,” she said. “This is a great moment for everyone to not really have to think about academics.”

‘People were gathering in one place’

An image of students getting ready for the basketball tournament

Members from one of the four participating teams get ready for their game.

Global Health Advocates formed in early 2023 after two former OUWB student organizations decided to merge. The older orgs were Friends of Medecins Sans Frontiers (FOMSF) and Advocates for Global Health and Human Rights (AGHHR).

Sukhon said the idea for a basketball tournament fundraiser came to her when she realized how many OUWB medical student students participate in intramural sports at Oakland University’s Rec Well Sports programs, which are designed to provide a variety of activities to meet the needs of a diverse campus community.

For several years, OUWB has had its own soccer team and a flag football team. Last year, OUWB had enough people to field four teams in the volleyball league.

Many OUWB medical students also hit the OU Rec Center when they have free time, taking advantage of the many amenities, including exercise equipment, indoor track, and the nearly 20,000-square-foot, three-court gym where the basketball tournament was held.

For the GHA fundraiser, Sukhon said the group considered a soccer tournament, but later changed it to basketball because it offered more opportunity for participation.

“Our class specifically, after every exam…they would play basketball and I realized all of these people were gathering in one place and that we could do something with that,” she said.

‘Pretty intense’

Four teams with six players each were in the tournament. Each team was coached by an OUWB faculty member or administrator. Coaches were Dave Thomas, Ph.D., associate dean, Preclinical Education, and three faculty from the Department of Foundational Medical Studies: James Grogan, Ph.D., professor; Varna Taranikanti, M.D., associate professor; and Jickssa Gemechu, Ph.D., associate professor.

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“I just wanted to be part of this fun fundraising effort,” said Gemechu. “Everyone’s so excited to be part of this…they started talking about it in lab before they were even here (at the Rec Center).”

Grogan’s team won the tournament. The players — all M2s — were Wesam Almasri; Mohammad Hossein Mohammadzadeh; Ryan Victorjoseph; Sachin Pathangey; Hashim Aslam; and Noah Adams.

The winning team not only won bragging rights, but also determined where the monies raised would be donated. The team chose Medecins Sans Frontiers.

Winning team or not, participants said they had fun.

Tai Metzger, M1, was among them.

“I thought it would be fun to play against classmates and faculty and raise money for a good cause,” he said.

Metzger also commented on the level of play.

“It’s pretty competitive so everyone gets really into it and puts a lot of effort in,” he said. “It’s pretty intense.”

Spectators seemed to be having as much fun as the players, cheering loudly for each other.

“It’s fun to get out of the classroom for a bit, see people in a different environment, and do it all for a good cause,” said Zaynab Ketana, M1.

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

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

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