A look into a magical retreat

Incoming McGovern Medical School students had a “magical” weekend at Camp Allen during the 41st Annual Henry Strobel Retreat from Aug. 10 to 12, where students competed in games, performed in skits, learned about medical school and enjoyed plenty of puns courtesy of this year’s Harry Potter theme.

Luke Kennedy, second-year student and class president for the class of 2020 at McGovern Medical School, says putting on the retreat has been a labor of love for everyone involved. This year, the retreat had about 150 second-year students helping out throughout last weekend, including about 70 people to help set up decorations and rehearse for the opening day.

Kennedy himself fondly recalls attending the retreat himself as a first-year student and said that all the hard work and late nights leads to a great experience for students.

“I really want to pass on our love of community,” Kennedy said. “What I love about retreat the most is that the class can have some cohesion outside of the academic studies. This is just a great way to give back.”

Participating students participated in competitions as part of the House Cup, including the beloved wizard sport Quidditch, while also taking part in small-group discussions and listening to guest speakers who spoke about academics and life at medical school. Barbara J. Stoll, M.D., dean of McGovern Medical School, who unfortunately was not able to make it to the event due to a respiratory virus, shared her welcoming words of encouragement with students through a written statement

“As a lover of Harry Potter I could not give up the chance of coming to Hogwarts,” Stoll said. “I suppose that makes me Professor Dumbledore or Professor Mcgonagall, but mostly I expect someone here to have the magical cure for the common cold.”

Stoll said it was an exciting time for students to be a part of McGovern Medical School and said she hoped the new curriculum would prepare students well for lifelong learning.

“We are very fortunate to have recruited each and every one of you,” Stoll said. “And we are here to help you navigate the sometimes complex world of being a medical student. Your personal well-being is our top priority.”

She also spoke about new wellness programs and a new initiative to bring the fine arts to campus, beginning in September, that she hopes will give students a chance to reflect and hopefully strengthen their well-being. Stoll also encouraged students to respond to her weekly Study Break email with questions, comments and concerns of their own.

Dr. Henry Strobel, professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biology, who also spoke to students, also emphasized the focus of the retreat was to affirm the individuality of each person and the notion that what each person brings to the school is of importance.

“I would ask you to remember that,” Strobel said. “Don’t be afraid to give your gift. Don’t be afraid to say your piece. If it’s critical it’s OK – we probably have heard it before. If it’s complimentary, it will be embraced. Just remember that the more people you meet at the retreat, the fewer you will have to meet when your first class begins.”