University of South Florida

Medical students name winner of inaugural collegia competition

Nearly a year has passed since students in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine formed nine collegia, a mentor-building practice that sorts new students into various “houses” with students from all years.

The aim was to provide smaller groups that allow students across all years to connect and create positive, supportive environments, resulting in a better college experience and a better likelihood for academic success. They also help with the challenges of a both growing class size and the numerous classroom and clinical locations students visit across their four years of medical school.

Early last fall, the medical students created the nine MCOM collegia. They are called Bourne, Debakey, Farmer, Galen, Hippocrates, Koch, Lower, Osler, and Paracelsus (see images below). Along with the names, the students developed crests that help further define each group.


Since then, the groups have met socially and even competed in several challenges, from sports (such as a combined dodge ball/capture the flag competition) to recipe cook-offs, to costume contests at Halloween, to attending entertainment events around Tampa. Based on success wins or attendance, the collegia added points to their cumulative scores along with the way. The group with the most points at the end of the year was named overall winner and called Bullympics Champion – the inaugural collegium winner is the green team: Paracelsus.

“I congratulate ‘Gang Green’ on being the first annual winners of the Collegia competition,” said Peter Silverman, collegia director (’13-’14). “I’m proud of all the efforts made by the students and those who helped in the founding of Collegia system, specifically Neil Manimala, Vignesh Doraiswamy, and the Office of Student Affairs. I look forward to seeing this program continue to grow in the future and better unite our medical school.”

Bullympics (2) 2014

The Green Team Paracelsus are, from left, Kevin Hansen, Nakul Batra, Preston Ebaugh, Alex Guillaume, Stephanie Grewe, Brad Miller, Ben Ferry, Sara Garcia, Brad Montane, Camila Cabrera, Dhyana Sankar, Cathy Lee, Meg Kubala, Nigel Arruda, Reid Wilson, Holly O’Brien, and Tucker Burr.

“We had a great turnout for the events and challenges,” said Vignesh Doraiswamy, a fourth-year medical student and last year’s administrative vice president on Medical Student Council, which helped coordinate much of the collegia efforts. “Everyone really got into the events. The Halloween costume contest, for example, showed a lot of creativity I hadn’t expected to see.”

The concept of collegia is not new; the practice has long been used at boarding schools and colleges and is gaining momentum at medical schools, including Vanderbilt and the University of Miami.

With barely a year under its belt, the MCOM collegia effort has been a positive thing, Doraiswamy said.

“When we were grouped by our class year, we would still all hung out as a class,” he said. “But now, as part of collegia, it works more vertically, interacting with all of the classes. That really helps break the ice because we’ve already interacted socially as groups of multiple class years. I think that gives us a stronger sense of satisfaction.”


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