Eighteen OUWB Class of 2021 members were inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Eighteen OUWB students inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
An image of OUWB Class of 2021's Aryana Sharrak and father
Aryana Sharrak, OUWB Class of 2021 member, was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Her father pinned her during a special virtual ceremony held Oct. 27, 2020.

Aryana Sharrak has a lot of memories from her family’s popular Oakland County store, but perhaps one of the most memorable happened just this week.

Sharrak, a fourth-year medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, was among 18 OUWB Class of 2021 members inducted Tuesday into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The virtual event was held Tuesday with friends, spouses, and other family members invited.

Sharrak, along with her father, mother, and brother, participated in the ceremony via laptop and tablet set up in the back room of White Lake Township-based Graceland Wine Shoppe — a favorite stop for many known for its Elvis-themed décor, delicious gyros, and more.

Both Sharrak and her father — who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq at age 16 — had beaming smiles as he took a break from business to pin her with the AOA lapel pin

The fact that it took place at the family’s business — a place Aryana said is a strong part of her identity — made it even more special, she said.

“It was the first time the four of us could be at an event like this together,” she said, noting the demands of the family business often prevent such occasions.

“After the ceremony, I came out with the pin on and all of the customers were so excited for me because they’ve known my brother and I since we were born,” Sharrak said.

Sharrak also became one of more than 100 OUWB medical students inducted into AOA since the school’s inception.

Truly an honor’

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society is an international society recognizing students, alumni, and faculty who dedicate themselves to the medical profession. About 3,500 people are inducted into this society annually.

AOA has 132 chapters in medical schools throughout the U.S. and has elected more than 183,000 members since its founding.

More than 50 Nobel Prize winners in physiology, medicine and chemistry have been AOA members. More than 30 of those were elected to AOA prior to winning the Nobel Prize.

Eligible students must be from a school’s next graduating class. Only the top 25 percent in academic achievement are invited to apply. Of those applicants, the top 16 percent are selected for induction based on academic awards, leadership, awards received, research conducted and published, as well as community service. A selection committee makes the final determination.

OUWB holds its induction ceremonies annually in October. For 2020, COVID-19 forced the event to move from its traditional location at Meadow Brook Hall to a virtual setting.

In addition to Sharrak, OUWB students inducted this year were:

“I am grateful for the opportunities provided by OUWB that have allowed me to pursue my passions, both inside and outside of medicine,” said Dokter. “I am thankful to the friends I have made here who have supported me during difficult times. I am impressed by all my classmates’ achievements, who inspire me to work hard and be the best physician I can be.”

An image of OUWB students inducted into AOA

(From left, Schoenherr, Dokter, and Spillenger got together for the AOA induction ceremony.

Schoenherr called it a great honor to be inducted.

“I am joining some family members that are also AOA members who have been role models for me, so it means a lot to me since they were so influential for my intellectual, professional, and emotional growth in my early medical career,” he said.

Spillinger echoes similar sentiments and said he felt “great” to have his hard work from the last three years recognized.

“For me this is incredibly meaningful as I’m the first college graduate and medical student in my family,” he said. “Being recognized for AOA is a way to demonstrate that I've been taking full advantage of this privilege.”

‘Undeniable drive’

In kicking the event off, Pamela Benitez, M.D., councilor and secretary of the Alpha Omega Alpha Delta Chapter, said “Being selected for AOA is truly an honor that will stay with you throughout your career.”

Benitez spoke on the challenges presented to the medical students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been an epic test of character resilience and creativity,” she said. “It has made us sacrifice, forced us to be patient, and challenged us not to be afraid in the face of many uncertainties.”


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“Yet, out of the experiences and emotions, you delved into new medical education initiatives, new research projects…and our communities, volunteering like never before,” said Benitez.

OUWB Stephan Sharf Dean Duane Mezwa, M.D., highlighted the fact that 93 OUWB alumni were previously inducted into AOA, before recognizing those who joined the list Tuesday.  

“By being selected as AOA members, you have proven that you are compassionate leaders who have attained distinction in scholarship while demonstrating an unselfish dedication to serving others,” said Mezwa. “You are recognized for having an undeniable drive to advance the medical profession with honorable conduct and ethical ideals.”

Mezwa introduced Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., as the guest speaker. Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician and is credited with uncovering the Flint Water Crisis.

Hanna-Attisha’s general theme was the role of the physician “on the front lines of some of the most important battlegrounds of society.”

Among other things, she advised the AOA inductees to never forget the importance of always listening to patients for the kinds of clues that helped reveal the problems with Flint’s water and other health issues, such as COVID-19.

“We must listen to our patients, ask open-ended questions, pick up clues from physical exams and from labs and imaging, and consult with specialists and use the best available science” she said. “We are trained to leave no stone unturned…and we do all of this not as an academic exercise, but because our patients’ lives are at stake.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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