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First-year M.D.-Ph.D. student is elected student overseer

NEW YORK -- Ankit Patel, Cornell '04, a first-year M.D.-Ph.D. student, was elected Weill Cornell student overseer during elections held April 3-10 at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC). As the student representative, Patel will become a full member of the Board of Overseers for a three-year term, as well as an ex officio member of the Medical Student Executive Committee (MSEC) and the Graduate Student Executive Committee (GSEC).

The student overseer is unique in that the three-year length of the term is significantly longer than the one-year positions on MSEC or GSEC. The student overseer is also the lone individual charged with representing both the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences and WCMC at the overseers' meetings.

"The relevance of the position is to get to know everybody at Weill Cornell -- students, faculty, administrators and overseers -- and to work with those groups to further the students' interests," said Joe Habboushe, the outgoing student overseer.

The position also offers unusual opportunities. "Not only are you treated as a full board member, but the student overseer is also invited to give a presentation at each meeting, which not all overseers are offered," Habboushe said.

During his term, one of Habboushe's major accomplishments was to help establish Pyramid Coffee, a food vendor offering snacks and gourmet coffees, in the Archbold Commons Student Lounge. This was a highlight of a long renovation process Habboushe helped to complete that has made the student lounge a central meeting place on campus and also is a testament to Habboushe's interest in business.

Also during his term, Habboushe helped design the M.D./M.B.A. program as well as the Business in Medicine Program, which features lectures from leaders in health-care industries and an elective course that places students at internships within health-care companies. A few of Habboushe's other efforts include acting as a student liaison connecting the New York and Qatar locations, securing substantial funding for such student-initiated projects as the Community Clinic and, more recently, giving input to focus more of Weill Cornell's next capital campaign on more support for teaching faculty and reducing the cost of tuition.

For the first time, students were able to vote online in the overseer election, allowing WCMC-Qatar to be included in the process. Representatives from the Qatar student government submitted questions for the debate, and all medical students in Doha were eligible to vote.

Because of the multifaceted organization of the medical college and its affiliated institutions, outreach is one of the principal responsibilities of the student overseer, and the position includes responsibilities on the Faculty and Student Affairs Committee and the Affiliations, Government Relations and Community Affairs Committee.

Patel, whose experience includes a term as president of Cornell's honor society as an undergraduate, has made outreach, specifically with his alma mater, one of the goals of his term.

"Our medical and graduate schools are not in direct connection with an adjacent undergraduate campus, making it difficult to generate certain opportunities for our students," Patel said. "I hope that by strengthening the relationship between the New York City and Ithaca campuses we can generate some of these opportunities."

Patel also plans to increase support for community-based organizations and, as a Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. student, hopes to strengthen the relationship between the graduate school and medical college.

Gabriel Miller is a writer with Weill Cornell Medical College's Office of Public Affairs.

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