Feb. 22, 2023 — By day, you can find them studying for an anatomy exam in the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building or making patient rounds at the hospital, but after long hours spent learning crucial information, the UF College of Medicine’s students have myriad hidden talents to highlight. Some are stellar singers, while others play the piano with fingers that elegantly glide across the keys.
UF medical students recently showcased their artistry at the 2023 Gators Got Talent show Feb. 10. The show, which also served as a fundraising event for the Lupus Foundation of America, celebrated the talents of 20 students who sing, play instruments, dance, paint, create pottery and more.
Last year, second-year medical student Jakob Hamilton restarted the college’s talent show, which was postponed for two years due to the pandemic. Hamilton, who plays the piano and pipe organ in addition to composing music, felt it was important for students to have an outlet to express their creativity.
“I come from a performing background, and while there are certainly many opportunities for students to get involved in the arts on campus and through the College of Medicine with various student interest groups, I didn’t feel like there was a performance space for everyone to come together as a community,” Hamilton said. “I was interested in the idea of utilizing my background as a performer to provide a space for other people in my class and throughout the college who, as I have come to find out, are very talented. Gators Got Talent started as a pilot last year and grew from there.”
Hamilton and four of his classmates — Raven Wright, Michael Mathelier, Drashti Patel and Wavery Leonard — served as the Gators Got Talent management board and organized the event. Second-year medical students Nicky Trieu and Sydney Cabana bantered together as emcees for the first half of the show, while third years Stella Jeon and Caretia Washington served up puns as emcees for the second half of the show.
This year, 13 acts performed on stage at the University Auditorium as their classmates cheered from the crowd, while another seven students had artwork such as paintings, writing and pottery on display.
Four College of Medicine faculty members served as guest judges: Kyle Rarey, Ph.D., Maria Velazquez, M.D., James Lynch, M.D., and Heather Harrell, M.D., who weighed in with real-time feedback after every performance. Attendees also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite act during the show using their phones.
Harrell, the associate dean for medical education, said she was impressed with this year’s performances.
“It’s clear they put in a lot of practice, and what struck me was the variety of musical styles performed and the fact that some performers brought in elements of their culture,” she said.
Second-year medical student Jamie Harris, who performed an interpretive dance to One Republic’s “Secrets,” received the audience choice award. First-year medical student Arielle Ayotte and fourth-year medical student Celeste Yergin, Ph.D., also received audience choice awards for their artwork — Ayotte, for her oil paintings, and Yergin, for a recording of her aerial performance.
View a complete list of talent show participants and winners: