Student Clubs are Virtual, Physically Distant and Active as Ever
The Annual Student Club Fair went virtual this year and it was one of the most successful ones to date.
Student clubs and organizations may function differently this year, but groups are still managing to maintain their connection and dedication to making the most of their educational experience at New York Medical College (NYMC). Case in point: The Annual Student Club Fair went virtual this year on September 17, and it was one of the most successful ones to date with more than 60 clubs represented in Google Meet.
The biggest challenge to organizing the virtual club fair was to determine which platform to use, according to Mathias E. Palmer, School of Medicine Class of 2021, who was instrumental in setting up the technology. They needed a platform so students could enter and leave as they chose and wanted to avoid a presentation style club fair which would seem more like a lecture, less like a fair. Mr. Palmer suggested using Google Meet which supports video calls for up to 250 participants using GSuite for Education.
“Just like groups create a table for conversation at a live fair, this year we had the groups create a meeting room for students to enter and leave freely. Due to the College’s transition to the Google platform several years ago, this was a seamless process,” explained Mr. Palmer. A sign-up sheet was created with instructions for making the meeting rooms and each club was asked to share the meeting ID. During the event, a live document was maintained with all the most accurate and updated links and Mr. Palmer operated a technical support room for anyone had any difficulties.
Feedback from the students in the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences and School of Health Sciences and Practice was very positive. “It is unfortunate that the event could not be in person, but by having free rooms in which students could join and leave at will, they were still able to get individualized attention with the clubs they were interested in and were able to network and meet other like-minded students,” said Mr. Palmer. “With the limited social opportunities on campus due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this digital platform afforded students an opportunity to socialize and network in a capacity that had not yet presented itself.”
Anthony M. Sozzo, M.S.Ed., M.A., associate dean for student affairs and director of student financial planning and student activities, could not agree more. “Our move to a virtual platform during the pandemic, while challenging, provides new opportunities for access and connection,” said Mr. Sozzo, who visited each club room to greet the students. “After being isolated for long, I think students are really looking forward to engaging in club activities, physically distant or virtual, of course.”
In addition to the new clubs on campus this year which include the Association of Women Surgeons Club, Bioinformatics Club, Culinary Medicine Club, Fitness in Medicine Club, Mask Transit, Medical Tech Interest Group, STEM Mentorship Club, Plastic Surgery Club, Saudi Students Club and Women in Medicine Club, student groups will focus on new collaborative efforts. This synergistic approach has already been successful in the recent collaborative multi-club initiative to involve the leadership of various organizations at NYMC to help spread the word to register to vote.
Due to the transition to online, Mr. Sozzo encouraged the students to make educational and creative videos to share information about their clubs. “It’s important to share all the great things our students are doing. I couldn’t be prouder of them or more impressed by their ability to adapt,” he said.