Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Around Campus | Of Interest | February 20, 2015
“San Antonio is unique for its military presence and profound
opportunities, and we wondered how we can enlighten the student body on this,”
explained Matt Lunati, second year medical student at UT Health Science Center.
Lunati was sitting
at the library with second year medical student John DeMis and second year medical and Master of Public Health student Rutger Gunther, when they realized that there were a lack of avenues on
campus to help military students navigate the Health Professions Scholarship Program requirements while
also providing information on the military opportunities in San Antonio to all
Gunther explained that the HPSP Scholarship program is very unique and it requires students to navigate their
way through a military system when most come from civilian backgrounds.
“One of the goals
of this group is to pass knowledge down from class to class, in order to make
the transition from civilian to soldier a little easier,” Gunther said.
“Matt and I are Navy
reservists, Rutger is Army. Matt and I don't have a military background, and
very little understanding of what we can and can't do, so we wanted to create
an organization that would help students navigate what their life would be like
for the next four years,” DeMis said.
DeMis explained that before
the Military Health Interest Group was established in April 2014, students on
this scholarship program usually "figured it out" and then left after
their four years without sharing information to underclassmen.
“What we ended up finding
was that many people at the HSC had the same problems. They wanted to tap into
military experiences and get the most out of their education, which many had
done before, but the process kept repeating over and over again,” DeMis said.
“It was important to us because it was a unique need to the medical students at
the UT Health Science Center.”
Lunati explained that the UT Health Science
Center’s location in San Antonio is important because of the numerous military
bases and facilities across the city including the San Antonio
Military Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid.
distinguishes itself from any other city in Texas (Houston, Dallas, Austin)
through the relationship it has with the military. You can feel is when you
even enter a plane destined for San Antonio,” Lunati said. “It is a sense of
pride, celebration, and commitment towards the military within this city, and
for a good reason. San Antonio has many of the best military bases and military
health facilities in the country. This allows for endless opportunities to
volunteer, serve, gain unique experiences, and aid in research through the
One of the goals
of the Military Health Interest Group is to create a multidisciplinary team with
students and faculty which would further the educational opportunities for all
health science students.
“In terms of
health sciences with graduate school and postdocs, there are multiple ground
breaking research projects going on through the military in San Antonio. We can
bring in speakers talking about their specific projects and set up meet and greets
for professional development and networking,” Lunati said.
So far, the
group has organized a 9/11 solidarity run to honor those who lost their life during
the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
“We had teams of
students run a commemorative flag from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. around the campus. It
was a lot of fun, people were honking their car horns as we ran past, cheering
us on. We even had the local Fire Station provide runners as well,” DeMis said.
to the 9/11 solidarity run, the group also organized a speaker panel from each branch
of the military, who were also a representative sample of the health
professions, who spoke about their careers and life in the military. The panel
also included Dr. Byron Hepburn, director of the new Military Health Institute.
“We wanted our panel to excite people about what’s out there, military
related, and see that there might be a way to get a little more out of their
time here on campus. Given that we had so many people come, we think we did
excite people,” DeMis said. “Our school is unique because it fosters so much
student-faculty and student-student interaction, it’s definitely why we felt we
comfortable starting our organization.”
Lunati explained that one of the reasons he chose UT Health Science
Center was because of the people and the environment.
“I realized UTHSCSA was the school for me shortly after my interview
day,” Lunati said. “The student body, professors, and deans all displayed the
passion to better each other, the school, and themselves in that order. The
students showed a love for the school, and a desire to improve themselves and
their environment. All of this has proven to be true while being here.”
The group plans to hold a military health speaker series each semester
and a UT Health Science Center campus-wide volunteer event once a semester. If
you would like to join the Military Health Interest group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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