By George Mauzy
Wednesday afternoon's Multicultural Extravaganza in Irvine Hall was memorable for all in the spirited standing-room-only crowd who witnessed it.
The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine Student National Medical Association annually hosts the event, which is always held during the lunch hour and serves as a fundraiser for the student group that focuses on the needs and concerns of medical students of color. In addition to raising money, the event celebrates the diversity and talents of the college's multicultural students.
"I was very pleased with this year's event because it went off without a hitch, was well-attended and accomplished its goal of being an important fund-raiser for SNMA," said second-year OU-COM student Meghan Drayton, who helped coordinate the extravaganza. "Even more importantly, it was a great celebration of the college's diversity."
OU-COM has the most diverse student body of any Ohio University college, boasting a 24 percent diversity rate among its first-year class of 100 students. The class that entered in the fall also had the highest average science and overall undergraduate GPAs in the college's history. In fall 2005, the diversity rate of the incoming class was a school-record 30 percent.
"The fact that so many OU-COM faculty, staff and students came out to support the multicultural students speaks to the importance of diversity in the college," said faculty member Calvin James. "The college has created a great environment for multicultural students."
OU-COM's diversity is not an accident, but instead is a significant part of the college's mission, which includes the phrases "embracing diversity" and "improving the well-being of underserved populations."
"We try to recruit students who reflect the mosaic of society," said OU-COM Director of Admissions John Schriner. "One of the college's goals is to reduce the disparity in health care in the region, state and around the world. That is why we annually search for the best and brightest students who are interested in one day serving the underrepresented and underserved groups they come from."
After lunch, OU-COM students had an opportunity to share their unique talents with their classmates and others.
"The talent show was a chance for all of us to see something we have never seen before," said first-year OU-COM student Starla Lyles. "Seeing all of these different cultures reminds you of where you came from and gives you a chance to experience something other than the mundane."
The talent show included the singing of the black national anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by post-baccalaureate student Candace Moore; salsa dancing by Jose Bustillo and Liset Estanislao; flamenco dancing by Mirna Martinez; Indian dancing by Tejal Patel; black Greek-style stepping by the Unity Step Team; and other presentations. A fashion show featuring traditional clothing from around the world closed the program.
"Today was awesome," said second-year OU-COM student Michelle Wallen. "We have been busy planning this event since November, so it was nice to see the end result."