BGE in Photos: SMP Students Make a Difference in the Community
BGE’s Special Master’s Program in Physiology (SMP) is an intensive pre-medical program that allows students to build technical knowledge and study skills for success med school and beyond. Students can also round out their SMP experience with service activities that expose them to some of the communities and health challenges they will meet as professionals.
Students who choose the SMP’s Georgetown Downtown Campus track participate in community service activities throughout the program. BGE tagged along with Physios volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Alexandria and at a goalball practice with blind athletes to learn how these experiences influence our future physicians.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Ten students drove to suburban Alexandria, Virginia, on a morning in December to work at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. ReStores supplement Habitat’s famous home-building projects: The stores accept donations of furniture and other home goods, reselling them to raise money for the organization.
Students were assigned to help process donations at the back of the cavernous store. They reassembled cabinets, measured and priced windows, and helped organize the items to be sold.
“I was just really impressed by [SMP students’] interest in the mission and serving. … We want you all to come back all the time if you can!”Rachel Jones, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia
“I had fun working with my classmates on our project. I was very impressed by the scale of the ReStore and the variety of items they had for sale. It made me appreciate the generosity of those in the community that donated items for others, and also those who work in the ReStore.”Marissa Dreger, SMP student
“I think it’s a great opportunity to know about more resources. … As a physician you’re going to encounter people from different backgrounds, and you may encounter people who are facing difficulties in their lives – not necessarily in the medical aspect. … It could affect them if they’re facing any economic situation, and [if] you know this opportunity, I think it’s great that you could bring it up and tell them, ‘Hey, I know this organization that does this.’ “Catherine Chavez Carpio, SMP student
Goalball with Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes
In addition to supporting groups such as Habitat for Humanity that respond to economic inequality, SMP students also work with disability organizations around D.C. Richa Kulkarni and Aaron Yengbie volunteered at a goalball practice hosted by the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes at the Columbia Heights Community Center. The two worked with MWABA members and volunteers from around the DMV to set up the court and corral stray balls during play.
Goalball is a three-on-three sport designed for visually impaired athletes. Teams take turns pitching a ball with bells inside across the court, attempting to get it past the opposition to score.
“Speaking with a few goalball players revealed that while the sport was their initial draw, finding a supportive community that allows them to be vibrant was important. For me these volunteer experiences are more than resume entries; they underscore the essence of being a healthcare professional and reinforce the importance of service, empathy, and community.”Aaron Yengbie, SMP student
“These experiences embody the holistic approach of the SMP, that being a doctor involves more than just diagnosing and prescribing, it’s about treating a whole person.”Aaron Yengbie, SMP student
“Part of [MWABA’s] mission as an organization is for people to see blind people fully participating in activities and helping to normalize our presence in all of those spaces. … It’s fun when [volunteers] take an interest.”Kurt Sloop, GoalBall organizer and Treasurer, Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes
To learn more about the Special Master’s Program and students’ volunteer work, visit the SMP website or read GUMC’s story: “Historic Master’s Program in Physiology Prepares Students for Medical School While Teaching the Value of Community Service”
- Special Master's Program