News at Medicine - April 2013 - Volunteer awards for three members of med school

Volunteer awards for three members of med school
April 5, 2013
 Three members of the Faculty of Medicine have received awards from the Student Volunteer Bureau for their activities in 2012. Dr. Michael Woods, Discipline of Genetics, was named Faculty Volunteer of the Year, medical student David Jerome won Student Volunteer of the Year, and neurosciences research technician Mahmud Hasan received Staff Volunteer of the Year.
Among Michael’s volunteer activities, he serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Cancer Society NL Division and sits on the Canadian Cancer Society’s national board of directors and national council. He was also assistant coach to the Memorial Seahawks men’s basketball team and a member of the executive for the St. John’s Amateur Basketball Association.

“There were two main themes to my volunteer activities during 2012 – cancer and basketball,” said Michael. “Although these seem like very disparate activities, they are at the core of what I do and who I am.”

Michael first began volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) five years ago, although he has had a relationship with the society for over a decade. He received a post-doctoral fellowship from the CCS in 2002 and then a New Investigator Award from the CCS in 2006 when he joined the Discipline of Genetics. 

Michael revealed that during his post-doctoral fellowship, while studying the genetics of colorectal cancer, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He is happy to say he’s been cancer free for almost 10 years. In 2007, the executive director of CCS for Newfoundland and Labrador asked him to sit on the provincial board of directors. “CCS had done so much for me during my research career, and because of my personal experience with cancer, it was an easy decision. Since then, I became the vice-chair of the Board of Directors, and in 2011 I was nominated the chair, which I continue to do today.”  

Michael estimates that he dedicates about 10 hours per week to activities associated with his role with CCS, which also involves national responsibilities. He has also been very involved with local basketball over the years, particularly in 2011-12. 

“I’m a former MUN Seahawk Basketball team captain and I’ve tried to stay involved with the team in some capacity over the years since I graduated in 1995,” explained Mike. “For the 2011-12 season, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be assistant coach for the team under coach Peter Benoite. It’s nice to give back to a program that was so important to my university experience and which helped me develop many important skills that have been valuable in my life.”  

David’s award as Student Volunteer of the Year involves activities both as a graduate student and a medical student. He is now a first-year medical student and was previously a M.Sc. student in the Faculty of Medicine, supervised by by Dr. Qi Yuan. 

As a graduate student, David was the graduate student representative on Academic Council and the Engagement Framework Expert Working Group. He is currently the elected class president of the MUN Medical School Class of 2016, and volunteers with a number of medical school interest groups including the Gateway Program. He is also a volunteer operator with the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis Line and a member of the board of the St. John’s Farmers’ Market Co-op. He is currently serving as a member of the board of the Shakespeare by the Sea Festival as well as the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union.
“In my experience, volunteering is one of the best ways to get integrated into a community,” said David. “Both on campus and in the wider city, I've met some of my best friends and built some of my strongest relationships through volunteering. As a CFA – I was born in Ontario – volunteering has helped me settle into my new home in St. John's.”
Mahmud Hasan, who is a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Jackie Vanderluit, has been in Newfoundland for seven years. “I have really tried to be involved within residence life at Memorial and the community-at-large,” he said. “I believe that the university is more than just for academics. Students come here to be educated about a lot more than what is taught in the classroom. When I was an undergraduate at MUN, I always looked for new opportunities to explore and volunteer. Now, having finished graduate school, I feel like taking more of a leadership role and create an environment for others to contribute to their communities.”

Mahmud is the residence co-ordinator at Squires House and last September he founded the Squires Community Outreach Program, whereby residents from on-campus housing can participate in various community outreach initiatives. The group has raised close to $6,000 during the past year for various charities.

Through this program, members of Squires House have participated in Shinerama, Terry’s Cause on Campus and Walk for Wishes. As well, the group organized a Trick or Treat at the Janeway to give out Halloween treats to hospitalized children. They have also raised money for Relay for Life and for the Canadian Network of International Surgeons.

Mahmud is also a volunteer with the provincial Brain Storm Competition and for the past five years he has volunteered with St. John Ambulance as an advanced medical responder. He received a St. John Ambulance Award of Merit in 2012. He is currently the staffing officer for the St. John’s Brigade and is responsible for processing new volunteer applications, setting up interviews and accepting new members.
Mahmud is also a coach with the St. John’s Soccer Club and coached the St. John’s Girls U12 team last year. The team won the Provincial B Championship in August 2012. “Spending time with the little kids and coaching them in the best sport in the world was an amazing experience!”

Volunteering is an important part of the lives of Mahmud Hasan, Michael Woods and David Jerome.