‘A wonderful feeling’: Busy, fun week of orientation preps OUWB Class of 2026
An image of OUWB students team-building
OUWB's Class of 2026 participated in team-building activities on Friday, the last day of orientation.

After a whirlwind week of orientation, OUWB’s Class of 2026 is set to hit the ground running when classes begin on Monday.

The busy week for the school’s newest matriculating cohort of students began Sunday and wrapped up on Friday, when the highlight of the day was a visit to the TreeRunner Adventure Park on the campus of Oakland University for team-building and bonding.

Sandwiched between the two days was a jam-packed week of preparation, as students were introduced to all facets of the school, including meeting faculty, learning details about its curriculum and programs like PRISM and Embark, an entire day dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and more.

Watch: OUWB Class of 2026 White Coat Ceremony

“Orientation week for the Class of 2026 went very well,” said Berkley Browne, Ph.D., associate dean, Student Affairs.

Browne said she was especially happy with a theme that emerged throughout the week.

“I was thrilled to see that just about every speaker – from the White Coat Ceremony to the PRISM mentors to the variety of session presenters during the week – emphasized that we want them to approach their med school education in a way that allows them to choose collaboration, cooperation, and compassion for one another over competition,” she said.

Jamie Vassel, student affairs coordinator, Student Activities & Events, saw the impact firsthand.

“As the week’s progressed it’s been fun to watch them go from being really, really quiet to being very, very talkative,” she said.

‘It’s a wonderful feeling’

An image of OUWB students team-building
Students participated in team-building activities on Friday.

Friday had a looser feel for the students as the week wound down.

There were three primary components: the visit to TreeRunner; a session introducing the Art & Practice of Medicine (APM) course; and lunch with the current Medical Student Government (MSG) Executive Board.

At TreeRunner, the students were split into two groups – one focused on team-building and the other focused on climbing and going through the actual course. After a while, they switched areas of focus.

The team-building activities allowed the students to bond with each other in unique ways like crossing between three platforms using only two wooden planks, lifting one hula hoop in unison without grabbing it, and aligning themselves on a rope in alphabetical order without talking and by only being able to step on the rope.

Browne said the activities at TreeRunner were “a great way to reinforce for the class all that the various presenters throughout the week tried to show them.”

Arooj Imran said she feels an activity like this helps people get out of their comfort zone and meet new people.

“With an activity like this you kind of have to bond with teams because if you leave someone behind they're going to obviously fall behind," she said. 

"Working together really helps each other bond and learn how to work together."

The students were glad that an activity like this was included in their orientation week.

“I think it's a wonderful feeling that we get a communal experience. And we get to participate in these group activities so that we can get to know each other a little bit more,” Max Kuang said.

“I don't know many med schools that probably do something like this, but the fact that Oakland does this, it's awesome,” he added.

Friday also saw students learning more about OUWB’s APM course from its directors. They also learned more about OUWB’s standardized patients program.

In the middle of the day, students ate lunch and learned more about how they can get involved in student government from the current OUWB Medical Student Government Executive Board: Suhani Gupta, president; Nataly Salman, vice president; Verna Halim, treasurer, and Kristin Sarsfield, secretary.

“One of our goals as an MSG executive board was to build a really tight-knit relationship with the incoming M1s as well as the upperclassmen,” said Gupta. “These are going to be people we’re rotating with and hopefully working with in the future, so we really want to let them know that we’re here for them in any capacity in which they might need us.”

Many of the new students had questions for board members on a wide variety of topics.

“I remember being in their shoes a year ago and feeling really nervous and overwhelmed,” said Gupta. “I’m glad a lot of them had the courage to ask us about what’s on their mind.”

‘Really excited’

The week began with an event called “Sundaes on Sunday.”

Students checked in at OUWB for the first time. They picked up laptops, tablets, and locker assignments, filled out necessary paperwork, participated in a student organization fair, and even enjoyed ice cream treats. Students also had a chance to tour campus.

Students like Felicia Fong generally expressed feelings of being excited and nervous.

“I’ve been working toward this for a decade,” she said. “I’m really excited to meet everyone and start learning.”

“When I was looking at schools, I looked up like schools that were service focused and this was one of them,” said Jashan Khaira. “All the free clinics that they have and then volunteering is a big part of medical students… so that aligned with my goals.”

Doria Morante did her undergraduate at OU.

“I’m very familiar with the campus and everything,” she said. “So OUWB was my number one choice, and I'm glad to be here now.”

Hoon Oh said he was “looking forward to meeting new people, new colleagues, and just getting started.”

Focus on betterment

On Monday, Duane Mezwa, M.D., Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, welcomed everyone.

He shared personal details about his upbringing, family, interests and hobbies, and career.

“I wanted to at least give you a little insight as to who I am as the dean, where I've come from, more specifically from where you're sitting in your seats, to how I became the dean,” Mezwa said.

More from OUWB

‘Mini-med school’ concept returns to OUWB for Class of 2026 parents, families

Diversity & Inclusion stresses importance of inclusion, togetherness to new OUWB class

‘A big giant family:’ White coat ceremony held for OUWB Class of 2026

Watch: OUWB Class of 2026 White Coat Ceremony

“And for some of you, you may just take that same journey. Part of my message to you today is you have absolutely no idea where this career is gonna take you,” he added.

Students generally expressed feeling impressed.

“I think I made the right choice. He seems like a really good dean,” Erika Curka said. “He is very personable, very social, very friendly.”

“He seems a lot more humorous than I thought he’d be, I thought he’d be super serious but his introduction and talk was great,” Forrest Bohler said.

Following Mezwa, OUWB’s Student Affairs department took center stage

Jennifer Root, Ed.D., assistant dean for Student Affairs & Career Development, and Vassel led the session and introduced the entire team to the students.

They introduced their mission and guiding principles that they follow in order to give the students the best chance of success.

“Our focus is really on your betterment. We want to make sure that each one of you has a successful time here during your four years,” Root said. “We see you as our junior colleagues in training and we want to support that professional side of where you're going next in your career.”

Monday afternoon was dedicated to OUWB’s 2022 White Coat Ceremony. (More about the ceremony can be read here.)

On Tuesday, students spent most of the day immersed in diversity, equity, and inclusion. (More about the day can be read here.)

Wednesday and Thursday were generally dedicated to students meeting faculty and learning about OUWB’s curriculum, including courses such as Anatomical Foundations of Clinical Practice (AFCP), Medical Humanities & Clinical Bioethics (MHCB), Promotion & Maintenance of Health (PMH).

Students also learned more about OUWB programs such as PRISM and Embark.

New for 2022 was a session led by Root and LaTina Jackson, senior medical school advisor, that showed students how to implement and integrate all of the information, resources, expectations, and support shown to them this week.

Among other things, the session allowed students to develop an individualized schedule and get feedback in real-time from OUWB academic support staff as well as identify which learning resources might be most appropriate for each of their needs.

“I am thankful that we made the time this year to focus some attention on implementation, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the information from this new session helps our students transition even more smoothly into their courses next week,” said Browne.

By the end of the week, students said they were looking forward to their OUWB experience even more.

“Everybody here is so nice and welcoming,” said Nathan Huang. “I appreciate how nice the professors are…and I like how we have access to so many resources to succeed.”

“I can already sense the feeling of community that exists among the med students and we’ve only known each other a couple of days,” said Brody Dams.

“Orientation has been very informative,” said Wesam Almasri. “I got a good glimpse of what to expect as I move forward at OUWB.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

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

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