AUC’s Community Action Day Draws Hundreds to Make a Positive Impact Together
The final Community Action Day of the year took place on Saturday, November 26, with hundreds of AUC students and colleagues collaborating with community partners to drive forward more than a dozen service projects in health, environmental awareness, education and more.
Health Screenings and Awareness
Many of the Community Action Day events represented continuations of ongoing partnerships with community organizations, such as AUC’s involvement with “Stop the Bleed” workshops with the Red Cross Sint Maarten. Students from the Disaster Medicine Interest Group (DMIG), led by Nick Dukaj, helped conduct Stop the Bleed workshops at a Red Cross Sint Maarten disaster preparedness event during Community Action Day. Stop the Bleed is a global awareness program intended to promote and encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Thank you to Dr. Earl Best, associate professor of clinical medicine, for providing mentorship and advisement throughout this event.
Community Action Day also served as a chance to educate about antimicrobial drug resistance. Earlier in the month, Collective Prevention Services (CPS) launched an Antimicrobial Drug Resistance Awareness campaign, which featured educational events to improve public awareness for safe use of antibiotics—including a panel featuring Dr. Kalkidan Bekele, assistant professor of clinical medicine, and Dr. Wandikayi Matowe, professor of basic medical sciences. During Community Action Day, the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) helped drive this effort forward by partnering with three pharmacies—Simpson Bay Pharmacy, Friendly Island Pharmacy and Bush Road Pharmacy. This project was led by Marlon Zubizarreta with support from Beatriz Finkel-Jimenez, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and participation from Heldder Gutierrez Renjifo, lab services technician.
In another health-focused activity, the Cardiac Interest Group, led by Vuong Ngo and Brooke Ohlman, joined the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Sint Maarten for the “Reaching Out for Hearts” event to help the public learn about monitoring their blood pressure and practice measuring their own blood pressure. Students utilized the “teach-back” method when working with individuals as they learned the process.
Community Action Day also provided an opportunity to address environmental health, such as picking up litter from nearby trails and beaches. To help clean up the ocean, 17 students and six faculty and staff members also collected 424 pounds of trash from Simpson Bay, with support from the Sint Maarten Coastal Cleanup Project, Nature Foundation Sint Maarten, and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard. In total, AUC has now contributed to removing more than 1300 pounds of debris from Dutch Sint Maarten coastal waters. Special thanks to the e-board of the AUC Club for Underwater Activities—Dustin Koch, Chris Stanek, Zack Barrios, Julia Ryan, and Brittney Ward—as well as Dr. Ryan Downey, assistant professor of physiology, for their leadership, and thank you to the Scuba Shop, Dive Adventures, and SXM Divers for supporting the event with dive boats, crew, and facilities.
Teaching and Recreation
Educational and engaging programming for children was also at the forefront of Community Action Day. For one activity, the Muslim Student Association and Careers in Advancing Medicine (CIAM) groups partnered to lead creative activities to teach children about anatomy with the use of clay at the Islamic Foundation of Sint Maarten. Sharmarke Isaak was instrumental in leading this year’s event, which has occurred each semester for the past two years.
In addition, the Gastrointestinal Interest Group, led by Madison Ballard, had recently helped establish a Science Club with Sister Regina Primary School and with the support of Dr. Natalie Humphrey, assistant dean for community engagement, and Fallon Powers-Peterson, student affairs coordinator, in order to promote interest in STEM careers and the scientific method. For Community Action Day, the students were invited to AUC’s campus for a day in the life of a medical student and had a great time in the simulation center. We’d also like to acknowledge Shirley Serbony, manager of the clinical simulation center; Dr. Marcin Kwiatkowski, associate professor, clinical medical sciences for their support and leadership with this event.
These are just a few examples of the many ways in which our community came together to make a difference. Thank you to all of our students and colleagues for your dedication toward serving the communities in which we live, study, and work!