Ice Cream Social Provides a Taste of Medical Alumni Association Support

After crunching her way through a handcrafted strawberry gelato bar, coated with semi-sweet chocolate and crumbled Oreo cookies, fourth-year medical student Catherine Gordon sang the praises of the second annual ice cream social, which was hosted recently by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Medical Alumni Association (MAA).

Gordon, a Class of 2015 M.D. candidate, said it was the perfect way to connect with the MAA, which provides a link to about 7,200 Miller School alumni.

“It is a wonderful experience to eat something delicious,” said Gordon. “It is also important to be able to speak with alumni about their experiences graduating from UM and going into the workplace.”

More than 200 students showed up March 5th in the Schoninger Research Quadrangle to enjoy the custom-made gelato and sorbet pops provided by HipPops, a food truck and catering service. The event was held during Medical Alumni Awareness Week, which is designed to put a spotlight on the mission of the MAA. It is also held in collaboration with Medical Alumni Weekend, the annual three-day gathering that brings hundreds of alumni back to campus.

“The ice cream social is a good way to get students together and raise awareness that the MAA is here, and to spark conversation,” said Sabrina Taldone, co-student liaison to the MAA and a Class of 2015 M.D./M.B.A. candidate.
The Medical Alumni Association provides opportunities for alumni to continue to be part of their alma mater through initiatives that bolster alumni/student relations, enhance medical education and community relations, and ensure that current students have opportunities for learning and success.

Organizers created the awareness week last year after a survey showed few students were familiar with the role of MAA.

“Last year when we asked how many people know we have a Medical Alumni Association, only five percent of the students said yes,” said Angelica Melillo, co-student liaison and a Class of 2016 M.D. candidate. “This year, we are up to about 50 percent, so it is getting better.”

To help get the word out, organizers hung posters throughout the medical education buildings that boasted of the accomplishments of alumni and delivered short presentations about the role of the MAA and its alumni awards: the Hall of Fame Award, Anastasia Award and Distinguished Alumni Award.

They also made sure the students knew they automatically become members of the association when they enroll at the Miller School.

“That gets a lot of attention because many of the students don’t know that,” said Taldone. “In addition, we talk about how the alumni volunteer in the organization, providing opportunities for shadowing, mentorship, and preceptorship. They also have an annual event, for third-year students, where they get to meet with alumni to talk about their fields and what life is like outside of academia.”

The presentations focused on the role alumni play in fundraising, particularly for the John K. Robinson Scholarship Fund. The fund provides both scholarship support for tuition and grants for students to present their research findings at conferences nationwide.

Organizers say events like the ice cream social help them develop an understanding of how to better engage with the student body, and at the same time make the students feel like they are a part of the bigger Miller School family.

“The Medical Alumni Association is happy to provide a delicious reprieve during our students’ busy schedules,” said Erin Sekerak, Donor Relations Manager with the Medical Alumni Association. “It is a wonderful opportunity to highlight all the achievements of our past alumni, and celebrate our current students for being a part of that legacy.”

For more information on alumni events and news, visit

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