May 5, 2015
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) was pleased to welcome the Honorable Mrs. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports and Acting Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, and members of her cabinet to AUC’s campus in Cupecoy, Sint Maarten.
An important focus of the meeting was discussion of ongoing and future collaboration between the university and the Ministry on initiatives to serve the local community. AUC has a strong tradition of community engagement in Sint Maarten and has launched, promoted, and supported numerous programs benefitting the country’s people.
“We welcome every opportunity to deepen our collaborative work with the government and our community partners,” said Heidi Chumley, MD, Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer of AUC. “At AUC we view the university as a citizen-institution with a responsibility to foster the health, well-being, and potential of members of the local community. It is through joint initiatives like those created with the Ministry that we are able to provide help that truly benefits the people here.”
The most recent collaboration between AUC and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor is the mobile clinic. Launched in January, 2015, the mobile clinic delivers public health services to underserved communities, including disease screenings and advice for healthy living.
Minister Bourne-Gumbs, members of her cabinet, and several community partners were also given a guided tour of AUC’s campus, including the new academic building that opened last year. They were able to observe up close the learning environment that AUC has created for its students, and also meet local residents who play important roles in the operation of the university.
In addition to learning about university-led initiatives, the Ministry members learned more about service-learning activities led by AUC students in coordination with the Office for Service-Learning and Community Affairs. “Just this semester, our students collaborated with several local organizations to assist with health and wellness screenings, tutoring and mentoring programs, and health education workshops,” said Golden Jackson, PhD, Assistant Dean for Service-Learning and Community Affairs.
A highlight of the campus tour included viewing the “Island of Dreams” mosaic displayed in AUC’s new academic building. The large-scale art installation was created by children and teens from Hope Outreach and the ICan Foundation, two local community partners. It features images they thought were important to St. Maarten or related to health and physicians. A focal point of the mosaic is a child sitting on the beach listening to the heartbeat of his teddy bear through a stethoscope. Island scenes are also incorporated and include flamboyant trees and the causeway. “The mosaic is a wonderful visual reminder of the connection we at AUC have with the wider St. Maarten community,” said Jackson.