The gift and lesson of listening

Office of Development and Alumni Affairs' Chantele Martin, director of medical alumni affairs, and Joan Andrek, director of external relations, present a stethoscope to Toni Jackson, a first-year medical student from Florida Atlantic University. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

There is a meaningful tradition that happens every year during the new student orientation week at the UF College of Medicine. The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs presents a surprise gift made possible by an anonymous donor to all first-year medical students. 

On Aug. 17, each student in the class of 2015 experienced this tradition and received his or her personal stethoscope. 

“I’m flattered that we’ve been given this great surprise gift from the alumni,” said Victor Huang, a first-year medical student who earned his undergraduate degree from UF.

At the beginning of the event, Emily Tanzler, M.D., a 2009 COM graduate currently completing her residency at Shands at UF, shared her thoughts on medical school. 

“You will be studying the art of becoming physicians,” Tanzler said. “Stethoscopes are a unique symbol in the medical community. It allows people to know that we can help them.” 

First-year UF COM students eagerly open their surprise gifts from an anonymous donor. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

She also talked about how Alumni Affairs supports students throughout their journey and helps alumni to reconnect after graduation. 

Joan Andrek, director of external relations for the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, and Chantele Martin, director of medical alumni affairs, presented the gifts with a special message inside that read, “Listen to your patient.” 

“This symbolizes not only the beginning of their educational journey, but also their initiation into the medical alumni association,” Andrek said. 

Upon receiving their gifts, first-year students eagerly — and carefully — opened their boxes and put the stethoscopes around their necks.

First-year students pose with their new stethoscopes. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

“I am very surprised and excited,” said Lauren Simmons, a first-year medical student and a graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This is our first step to save lives and listen to the heart. Before I could only look, but now I can hear.” 

Stephen Pape, an FSU graduate, agreed that the stethoscope signifies the beginning of his class’ journey. 

“This is a very generous gift,” said Zachery Boucher, a UF graduate. “What a great way to start off my College of Medicine career.”