April 9, 2018 — Members of the UF College of Medicine class of 2020 established a new award for student excellence, named after a beloved faculty member. The Class of 2020 Kyle E. Rarey, Ph.D., Award for Excellence in the Anatomical Sciences was given to second-year medical student Colleen Cowdery during a ceremony held Feb. 15.
To qualify for the award, students must demonstrate excellent academic performance in the anatomy curriculum, exhibit deference and gratitude for those who donated their bodies for medical education and exemplify the attributes instilled by Rarey. After students nominate their peers, a selection committee of faculty members deliberates and chooses the winner.
Class of 2020 president and academic chair Wayne Dell was inspired to establish this award when he learned there wasn’t already an honor named for Rarey.
“Dr. Rarey has taught us to develop grit and how to tackle the most difficult science of anatomy,” Dell said. “He guides us along both the scientific and humanistic aspects of medicine.”
Rarey has taught at the UF College of Medicine since 1984. He currently serves as the director of the UF Center for Anatomical Sciences Education and a professor in the departments of anatomy and cell biology and otolaryngology. Over the decades, Rarey has received many teaching awards, most recently the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the UF College of Medicine Society of Teaching Scholars, five annual Teacher of the Year awards and nine annual Basic Science Teacher awards.
He said the award came as a complete surprise to him when it was announced during the February cadaver ceremony, an event organized by second-year students to mark the end of their anatomy section.
“I was taken back in awe. It was humbling,” Rarey said. “I’ve taught over half the graduated classes since the college opened. It’s a privilege to be part of this faculty and help society have competent, compassionate physicians. I get joy out of interacting with students and helping them with their training.”
Rarey likens his role as a professor to that of a coach on the sidelines.
“I tell students ‘Stroke, stroke, kick, kick’ to get around each buoy of life,” he said. “As instructors, we help our students realize the potential they have at succeeding. We can only guide them; we can’t learn for them. My role is to create an environment in which they can learn to the best of their abilities.”
Colleen Cowdery also reacted with surprise when she heard her name called as the recipient of the Rarey award. She said it was gratifying to be honored for excellence in a field she admires so much.
“I’ve always been attracted to getting my hands on real materials. I love learning hands-on,” she said.
Cowdery said when she studies with her peers, she takes cues from Dr. Rarey, who brings an unparalleled level of enthusiasm for the material he teaches.
“Dr. Rarey is one of those instructors who goes above and beyond to make the material accessible and interesting,” she said. “He makes anatomy something everybody truly wants to learn.”