News

7.24.2012

Students Learn Leadership Lessons at UHealth Sports Medicine Seminar

Sixty-five Miami-Dade and Broward high school students who were invited as role models for success participated in last week’s 3rd Annual Student Ambassador Seminar, leaving with lessons on leadership, decision making, peer pressure, academic success, time management, and life in the sports world from people who have been there – and one who chose to forego it.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEO of UHealth-University of Miami Health System, welcomed the students and shared his insights on the importance and stress of making decisions, big and small. As a member of the Belgian national junior field hockey team, he had to decide whether to continue his intense training in hopes of participating in the Olympics, or concentrate on his studies to become a doctor.

He chose his studies and went on not only to become a doctor, but also the head of a major U.S. medical school and health system. Noting his job is similar to the Olympics — it is competitive and exciting — he said he still wonders whether he could have been an Olympian had he chosen otherwise.

“The person that you are and the person that you will be, all depends on what you decide,” he said, adding that it’s OK to make mistakes. “You cannot succeed if you are not willing to fail.”

Designed to nurture the skills student-athletes can model for their peers, the seminar was founded by Lee Kaplan, M.D., chief of UHealth Sports Medicine and associate professor of orthopaedics, following the arrest and deaths of several area student athletes four years ago. Kaplan, who was recently named Medical Director and Head Team Physician for UM Athletics, commended the students for being the kind of leaders who prompted their coaches and other mentors to recommend them for the seminar.

Reinforcing the importance of planning and adjusting, Kaplan quoted boxing great Mike Tyson, who has faced his share of trouble: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”

In addition to Drs. Goldschmidt and Kaplan, other speakers at the July 20 seminar included Mike Hill, general manager and vice president of the Miami Marlins; Jason Rosenhaus, vice president of Rosenhaus Sports Representation; Steve Edwards, former UM basketball player; Matt Krieger, attorney; Steve Waterfield, UM associate athletic director; Kelly Pierce, UM Athletics academic advisor; Dave Strong, M.D., emergency physician; and Rod Vereen, candidate for Miami-Dade State Attorney.

Many students said they gained valuable insights from the day. Wearing a UM polo shirt, Ryan Samuels, a junior at Miramar High School, said he enjoyed meeting “cool people” and learning about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and will bring back valuable guidance to his friends and football teammates – which was exactly the goal of the seminar.

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