In medical school, it can be easy to disappear from the real world at times. With so much to learn in so little time, sometimes even getting outside the walls of the medical school library can seem superfluous, especially for a second-year medical student like me. This past weekend, though, I had the opportunity to take a step back from my studies and think about Georgetown as an institution.

As the Vice Chair of the Medical Student Alumni Association, I was honored to be asked to join Georgetown’s board of governors — the leadership body of the Georgetown University Alumni Association — for the next two years as a student governor. The organization’s Fall Leadership Weekend was held on and around campus this weekend. I had previously known little about this organization but learned much over the short span of the weekend.

My first stop was the new governor orientation on Thursday evening at the Alumni House, where I was greeted by Alumni Association President George Peacock (CAS ’84). Here, I learned more about the mission of the GUAA, which is “to generate goodwill and support for the university and to foster a lifelong connection among alumni, our alma mater and the global Georgetown community.” Most importantly, the GUAA cares about the students.

The focus of the student-alumni engagement meeting Friday afternoon was to discuss more ways the alumni could get involved on campus. To my surprise, nothing was off limits. Ideas from a student-alumni flag football game on the quad to an alumni dunk tank during Georgetown Day were all put on the table — and taken seriously.

Students may soon see the effects of the Adopt-a-Dorm program, through which alumni can “adopt” floors of their former dorms and plan events such as pizza nights for the students or help families on move-in day. The alumni also hope to have more of a presence during graduation events, where they can welcome graduating seniors into the alumni community — helping them transition from the close-knit campus family into a worldwide Georgetown alumni family.

Another common theme of the weekend was idea sharing among the different Georgetown schools and graduate programs. The alumni were very interested to hear about successful medical school programs that could be implemented at the undergraduate level. The Dine-with-a-Doc program, in which local Georgetown alumni physicians can take current medical students out to dinner or host them at their own homes, has been very successful in the medical school, offering students access to personal conversations and advice from current physicians.

The medical school also connects students and alumni through the white coat ceremony — where current alumni donate a white coat to each new student in the first-year class. This is a way for alumni to welcome each new student into the Georgetown University School of Medicine community and is a very meaningful rite of passage for medical students.

The GUAA is looking for a similar way to welcome new undergraduate students to campus and show them that from the day they enter the Georgetown community, they have the support of thousands of alumni from across the globe. Many other ideas were exchanged, some of which, I hope, you as students will benefit from during your time here on campus.

Though I knew little about the board of governors before the start of this weekend, I loved the opportunity to learn so much about Georgetown throughout the past couple of days. Georgetown is always recognized for its active alumni network, but this past weekend I got to see that community in action. The Georgetown alumni community is a large, diverse group of people united in their passion to give back to the students here. Georgetown students should be proud of this legacy.

Kimberly O’Neill is a second-year student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She is a student governor on Georgetown’s board of Governors.

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