Community, OUWB medical students benefit alike from 12th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Health Fair
An image an OUWB student at the Chandler Park Health Fair
Thea Wilkens-Reed, M1, worked at the glucose screening station during the 12th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Health Fair at Chandler Park Academy High School on Jan. 19, 2024.

Tenth grader Ryan Skeen called the health screenings “cool” at the 12th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Health Fair, but said he had another big reason to attend.

Primarily, the student at Harper Woods-based Chandler Park Academy High School wanted to rub elbows with future physicians from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Nearly 40 volunteered.

As someone considering a career in medicine, Skeen said it was important for him to be there.

“I’m interested in getting into the pediatric field,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about that…learn about the requirements and how I might be able to reach that goal.”

He added that “it feels comforting to see younger people who are close to my age have success.”

It’s just one of the many reasons people attend what has become a signature event led by OUWB’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) with support from OUWB Diversity & Inclusion.

An image of an OUWB student and Chandler Park student

Sachin Pathangey, M2, (right) explains a balance test to Ryan Skeen, a 10th grader at Chandler Park Academy High School.

Open to both Chandler Park students and the surrounding community, the event centers on OUWB student-run stations where attendees receive basic health screenings and flu shots and engage in educational activities related to medicine. It’s traditionally held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jade Ayers, president, SNMA, said the event is important to OUWB medical students as well as the community members who attend.  

“We have an opportunity to do work within the community and strengthen our community partnerships,” she said. “We also bring health resources to the community and make it free and really easy (to participate in health screenings).”

Ayers said work starts on the event in September as students begin reaching out to potential vendors and student groups that might be interested in setting up at the fair.

Vendors this year included Eastern Market, CNS Healthcare, American Indian Health & Family Services, Aetna Better Health of Michigan, and more.

Members of the OUWB Harm Reduction Alliance (HRA) also had a station. HRA is a student organization that aims to increase awareness, education, and dialogue regarding issues of addiction and drug use.

“Offering resources to younger people on how to navigate difficult situations is important,” said Jaclyn Talbot, M2, and volunteer coordinator, HRA. “It’s better to have a prepared plan than to act like underage drinking doesn’t happen at all.”

An image of the OUWB group at Chandler Park

Members of the OUWB community who volunteered at the health fair pause for a group photo.

OUWB students were at screening stations, too. Each station was organized and staff by an OUWB student interest group. 

Aasha Dharia, M1, was at a one led by the OUWB Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Interest Group. Primarily, the group was screening for balance and checking reflexes.

“(The fair) is a great opportunity for us to be able to share what we’ve learned about medicine and interact with the community,” she said.

Because participants had to balance a bean bag on their head while walking a straight line, Dharia said the screening presented an opportunity “to have some fun, too.”

Peter Prescott, M1, was at another station where OUWB students were doing glucose screening. The station was coordinated by the Emergency Medicine Interest Group. 

“We get to use some of the skills we’ve learned in medical school and actually go out into the community,” he said. “At the same, hopefully we can teach a little bit more about the importance of health care…(and) really make sure everybody’s taking care of themselves.”

On hand to assist students as needed were Brian Felice, M.D., assistant professor, and Payal Shah, M.D., assistant dean, Diversity & Inclusion. Both also serve as physicians at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak.

“I know how much time and effort the students put into this health fair,” said Shah. “It’s great to see their enthusiasm.”

More from OUWB

OUWB volunteers step up at local church on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Fundraiser brings OUWB students together for fun and a good cause

About 400 families served by OUWB community during Make a Difference Day

Felice said he agreed and that it’s great for the medical students “to be able to serve the community and see people right where they live.”

That was an especially important point for OUWB Diversity & Inclusion leadership. Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., assistant dean, Diversity & Inclusion, and Tiffany Williams, Ph.D., director, Diversity & Inclusion, both were on hand.

Bailey said events like the Chandler Park health fair speak to the school’s commitment to community. OUWB’s mission is “to develop compassionate physicians who are dedicated to improving the health of their communities, collaboration, and lifelong learning.”

“Community engagement is what we do, and it’s who we are at OUWB,” said Bailey. “From (the Chandler Park health fair) to the plethora of other outreach activities that our students, faculty, and staff engage in every single day, our community is where we focus, as well as get our education from to become the place that produces culturally responsive physicians.”

It’s an approach that holds special meaning to community members like Kelvin Wise, district STEM coordinator, Chandler Park Academy.

“(OUWB students) are always so enthusiastic and energetic…we’re just delighted to part with OUWB,” he said. “It means a lot, especially when you see the turnout that we’ve had, how everyone seems to be really engaged, and how much people are enjoying the activities as they learn.”

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.