Medical students gifted new Maren Reading Room keyboard
The portable instrument will be used by students for a Feb. 10 talent show
Jan. 26, 2023 — During a rigorous medical education program, your brain sometimes needs a break from studying to retain swaths of information. A trip to the Thomas H. Maren Medical Student Reading Room, a relaxing space with pingpong tables, hangout spots and musical instruments, is one such way UF medical students can take that much-needed pause.
“Having access to something like the Maren Room makes me feel like UF cares about our holistic health,” said Jin Choi, a second-year medical student and treasurer of the student group the Music Society.
Choi recently approached Heather Harrell, M.D., the associate dean for medical education, with a request for a new keyboard that Music Society members and other students could use and transport to local performances. To purchase the new instrument, Harrell and Joseph Fantone, M.D., the senior associate dean for educational affairs, arranged to use funds from a gift by the family of Maren, M.D. The late inventor of the first topical treatment for glaucoma and the first chair of the department of pharmacology and therapeutics established an endowment for the Maren Reading Room to promote the well-being of UF’s medical students.
The new keyboard will complement the room’s piano and allow more percussionists to flex their creativity on campus. It will also be used for upcoming performances such as Gators Got Talent, a competition taking place Feb. 10 at the University Auditorium featuring College of Medicine students, who will be judged by a panel of faculty. Donations raised during the free event will support the Lupus Foundation of America.
“UF has a long history of admitting medical students with strong backgrounds in the arts. They have used these talents to raise funds through events, while the White Coat Company performs for children on the pediatric wards. It has been a great source of joy for our students and contributes to their well-being and that of their audiences, so we are eager to support them,” Harrell said. “Dr. Maren also recognized the importance of supplementing medical education with the humanities, which led to the creation of the Maren Reading Room. The Maren family generously supports a wide variety of programs that specifically are not medical. As pandemic restrictions have lifted and students are back to performing, they recognized the need to update their resources, specifically with a keyboard. This seemed to perfectly align with Dr. Maren’s vision and has allowed students to expand their rehearsals.”
River Grace, a second-year medical student and president of the Music Society, said he is thankful to Harrell and Fantone for their support in the purchase of the new keyboard, which he has already used to jam out with his classmates.
“After working hard studying all day, my friend has said, ‘Hey, let’s take a 15-minute break and go to the Maren Room and we’ll play the piano and keyboard together,’” he said. “The space feels essential at this point. It gives us time to take care of our mental health.”