Liberty News

LUCOM's Class of 2021 gives back with annual Service Day

July 28, 2017 : By Tobi Walsh Laukaitis/Liberty University News Service

A day before their White Coat Ceremony, the Liberty College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Class of 2021 donned gym shorts and white t-shirts as they hosted LUCOM Service Day for 120 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg and Jubilee Family Center.

The Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex was converted into a giant field day as more than 150 new student-doctors led the children in games such as sharks and minnows, football, and relay races.

The event closes out orientation week for the new student-doctors and helps them learn about the new community they will be serving during the next four years.

Kenitho Martin, the teen outreach director for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg, said this was their second year participating in the event, and they made it a priority on their summer calendar to participate again this year.

“Our kids had an amazing time last year,” Martin said. “For (the kids) to come and shake hands with doctors – or soon to be doctors, I don’t think they understand how incredible that is. We hope that the kids understand that (the students) are human beings … and they too can become one of these doctors.”

According to Antonio Davis, program director for the Jubilee Family Center, the partnership with LUCOM has been amazing.

“It provides the kids with an opportunity they would not normally get,” Davis said. “We have several students (at Jubilee) who aspire to be doctors one day and Liberty students. The partnership with Liberty where they are able to give back to the community like this is priceless.”

For student-doctors like Caine Smith and Emily Knight, the service day had a unique impact as they got the chance to learn about their new home. 

Originally from Colorado, Smith heard about LUCOM through a friend who started in the program last year.

“I came to Lynchburg last September to interview, and I was completely in awe of the staff, students, facilities, and the message of LUCOM,” Smith said.

Smith said having the chance to incorporate his love of sports while hanging out with children from the Lynchburg community has been excellent.

“It’s so fun to see as future physicians the people we will actually be serving,” he said.

Knight, who completed her pre-medical degree at Oral Roberts University and spent the week getting to know more about LUCOM and her fellow classmates, said it was great to meet the Lynchburg community.

“Over the next few years we’re going to be with our classmates in more of a clinical setting,” she said. “It’s nice to get out of that setting and help (the community) in a different way.”

Luke Riddell (’12), who graduated from Liberty with a degree in molecular biology and a minor in chemistry, was excited to see his new classmates spending the day focusing on serving Lynchburg.

“It’s nice to know who you’re serving,” Riddell said. “As student-doctors, we’re definitely interested in the local Lynchburg area, giving back, and meeting the people we’re caring for. Maybe these kids, their parents, their loved ones are going to be the people we take care of in clinical settings.”

This isn’t the only outreach opportunity student-doctors have during their time at Lynchburg. Throughout the year, there are several opportunities for student-doctors to serve. Some of the opportunities include holding free community clinics, raising money for the American Heart Association through the HeartChase event, working with Hope of Life International in Guatemala, and hosting the Pancakes for Parkinson’s event.

During orientation week, student-doctors also heard from Dr. T. Scott Garrett, Virginia’s 23rd District Delegate. During a special Convocation, Garrett encouraged the students not to give up hope and to continue to serve during their time in medical school. On Saturday morning, the student-doctors will officially transition into medical school as they are coated during LUCOM’s White Coat Ceremony.

The Class of 2021 consists of 83 men and 73 women. The new student-doctors represent 34 states and 12 countries. This marks the fourth class for LUCOM, with the first class set to graduate next May. 

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