School of Medicine Class of 2026 Celebrates Friendsgiving
Medical Students And Faculty Share Camaraderie And Give Thanks
On November 17, the School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2026 celebrated Friendsgiving, a hallmark of the New York Medical College (NYMC) community. The annual event brings first-year medical students and faculty together to give thanks and celebrate the end of the first block of classes. As the first class to experience NYMC’s new medical school curriculum, the Class of 2026 has already encountered a variety of faculty, and Friendsgiving offered an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other better outside of the classroom and inspire unity and friendship.
With the guidance of second-year medical student senators and Anthony Sozzo, M.S.Ed., M.A., associate dean for student affairs and director of student financial planning and student activities, the Class of 2026 medical student senators—Lillian Huang, Alex Park, Audrey Huang, Derick Goff and Ipsha Banerjee—planned the Friendsgiving agenda, which included student activities and goodie bags, faculty speakers, a toast by Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, dean of the SOM and professor of medicine and of pharmacology, and a Thanksgiving buffet dinner.
Fellow first-year medical students--Aneesah Akbar, Anoosh Kouyoumdjian, Ashley Rosenberg, Kenisha Santiago, Rochelle Mendoca, Sahdev Baweja, Wenqi Qiu, and Zoya Siddiqui--were eager volunteers and assisted with leading group activities and organizing the event.
After being warmly welcomed to NYMC, the Class of 2026 invited administration and faculty who were instrumental in their early days at NYMC to speak—Anthony Sozzo, Roger Bender, M.P.H., instructor of cell biology and anatomy; Victor Fried, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy and of pathology, microbiology and immunology; Kenneth Lerea, Ph.D., phase one curriculum director and professor of cell biology and anatomy; Jennifer Koestler, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and associate professor of pediatrics and of medicine; Daniel Peters, M.D., associate professor of cell biology and anatomy; Jeanne Wilson, M.D., phase one curriculum director and assistant professor of pediatrics; and Zhongtao Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
“I wish [the students] the best in the coming years of their medical education and their professional careers,” said Dr. Fried. “I have the highest admiration for the effort and sacrifices that you are making to become physicians. I hope that my bits of knowledge and insights will have been helpful in your journey.”
Planning this important event to celebrate with classmates was extremely gratifying for first-year medical student senators. “Working on Friendsgiving definitely made for special memories with my fellow senators and peers,” said Lillian Huang. “We really bonded over thinking of what kinds of activities would be fun and memorable for our classmates and faculty.”
“Friendsgiving was the first big event that the M1 Senators planned together,” said Park. “And although it was challenging at times, it has been an incredible experience learning to work together as a team and I really look forward to celebrating the end of our first block with our classmates and faculty.”
“It’s exciting to mark the end of our first module with the memorable tradition of Friendsgiving,” said Banerjee. “I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our time together so far as the Class of 2026 and thrilled that I got to work with my amazing fellow M1 senators to plan this event.”
“Planning Friendsgiving with such a remarkable group of students and faculty was a phenomenal experience,” said Audrey Huang. “Both the joys and challenges of working on this event have allowed me to form even closer friendships with my fellow senators and peers. I am excited for this year’s Friendsgiving to do the same for the M1 class, and to celebrate how far everyone has come already.”
“It takes a lot of hard work and organization to plan an event like this, but seeing the class come together to celebrate and give thanks makes it all worth it,” said Goff. “Friendsgiving this year wouldn’t have been possible without everyone who was involved, not just the senators but the Planning Committee as well. I applaud everyone’s dedication. I am looking forward to more great events in the near future.”