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Making the Rounds with Founding Dean Dr. Barbara Atkinson
 Issue 167 - October 16, 2018
It’s been an eventful week in terms of support for the UNLV School of Medicine. On October 11th, UNLV’s first ever “Rebels Give” online donation campaign was a big success. The school of medicine joined other colleges on campus and we brought in a considerable amount, thanks to some very generous donors. To everyone who participated your generosity is greatly appreciated! Three days later, our beloved friends at the Las Vegas India Chamber of Commerce, led by its wonderful president, Rita Vaswani, hosted an elegant awards gala that doubled as a fundraiser for the scholarship programs at both the UNLV School of Medicine and Touro. One of the many highlights of the evening was seeing our medical students proudly modeling traditional Indian attire in a spectacular fashion show. I think you’ll enjoy hearing more about their experience on the runway with each student expressing a desire to learn about a different culture while giving back to their school and community.
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Student models L-R: Johnnie Woodson, Lucas James, Gwen Amsrala, Maran Shaker, Darlene Julian
It was a night for UNLV School of Medicine students Johnnie Woodson, Lucas James, Gwen Amsrala, Maran Shaker and Darlene Julian to remember, an evening when they got a sense of the rush that Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, Fabio Lanzoni, Tyson Beckford and other top models experience as they sashay down the runway to the accompaniment of an applauding and adoring audience.

Yes, the UNLV medical students got a chance Sunday to strut their stuff in the fashion world, modeling traditional Indian garb before 300 people during the Las Vegas India Chamber of Commerce Community Achievement Awards Gala at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.

Not once did they talk about colons, kidneys or blood pressure. They did, however, twirl and pose, put more cut in their strut and more pride in their stride.
Gwen Amsrala, a member of the class of 2022 said the combination of raising more money for scholarships and the opportunity to “wear fun clothes” was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
All proceeds of the event were dedicated to the scholarship funds of the UNLV School of Medicine and the Touro University College of Medicine. The amount raised has yet to be officially tallied.

The idea of having medical students model Indian clothing as part of a fundraiser was the brainchild of India chamber president Rita Vaswani. Last May she met with UNLV School of Medicine officials and said that because of the shortage of doctors in Southern Nevada, she felt the need to raise money for scholarships for medical students.

“Scholarships can help attract the best students here,” Vaswani said, adding that her chamber’s gala could be a perfect fundraising vehicle, with a highlight of the event being medical students modeling the clothes of the Taj Boutique for Men and Women.

It turned out that she was right. The more clothes were modeled by medical students to the pulsating beat of Indian music, the more the audience applauded. 

That the students were novices at modeling became clear when Maran Shaker confessed as to what he was thinking about just prior to going out on the runway in traditional Indian garb.

“I thought about not falling down the steps,” said Shaker, a member of the UNLV medical school’s inaugural class as well as the first student board member of the Clark County Medical Society. “But once I got out there and saw the environment was friendly people were excited to see the costumes we were wearing I didn’t have any anxiety. It felt great... As UNLV medical students, we have received incredible support from the community. We don’t have to wait for our medical degrees to start giving back. This event was just one way for us to contribute and help further fund medical education for current and future students.”

On an evening that also saw U.S. Rep. Jackie Rosen at the function campaigning for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s seat, Dr. Amir Bacchus, the chief medical officer and co-founder of the P3 Health Partners Medical Group, was one of the 10 professionals and entrepreneurs honored by the India chamber for his work in the community. Bacchus is a UNLV School of Medicine donor and member of its Community Engagement Board. 
Maran Shaker
Gwen Amsrala
While medical student Darlene Julian said she never expected to be asked to model during medical school, she admitted that she found it an exciting way to give back to a school that awarded her a scholarship.

“It was something I always wanted to try,” said Julian, a member of the UNLV medical school’s second class. “The clothing was just beautiful and the experience exposed me more to Indian culture. I’m here for medical school, but it’s also opening up so many other opportunities.”

Like Shaker, UNLV charter class student Johnnie Woodson worried that he might trip as he made his way down the runway. “It turned out to be a lot of fun, though. I was definitely out of my comfort zone but that’s something I liked to do. I’d definitely do it again for a good cause. How can you not want to help raise money for the medical schools in Southern Nevada?”

Gwen Amsrala, a member of the class of 2022, was the only UNLV student of Indian heritage in the fashion show. She immigrated to Nevada from India with her family when she was 13.

She said the combination of raising more money for scholarships and the opportunity to “wear fun clothes” was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

“I was definitely nervous,” she said. “I tried not to focus on all the people looking at me, though it was great they came out to support us. I never forgot I was wearing high heels and what could happen.”
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Everyone who arrived alive, survived, said Dr. John Fildes, medical director for the trauma center. He said no one person can claim all of the credit for the positive outcome, but called Kuhls the “unsung hero” of the evening.

Las Vegas Review Journal, October 4, 2018
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Photojournalist David Becker and four other panelists,  including Deborah Kuhls , director of the trauma intensive care unit at UMC hospital, and Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg, shared their experiences from the night of Oct. 1 and how they’ve grown in the year since the tragedy.

Las Vegas Review Journal, October 5, 2018
Each year in the U.S. more than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer and more than 500,000 die of the disease. Research shows that more than half of cancer deaths could be prevented through healthy choices, screening and vaccinations.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention |
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