Students showcase their talents to raise funds for USF Health BRIDGE Clinic

Kristal Ha’s emotional poem about her mother migrating to America after the Vietnam War, won the hearts of judges and more than 200 guests at the Annual BANDaids for BRIDGE Talent Show on Jan. 19 at the T. Pepin Hospitality Centre.

“My mother is my inspiration,” said Ha, a first-year medical student at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, after winning the talent show competition. “My mother sacrificed to give me a better life. And that’s what the BRIDGE Clinic is all about –giving up to give back to others.”

Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, poses for a photo with the winner of the competition, Kristal Ha, and student event organizers.

The competition was strong, but Ha, who wrote the poem specifically for the BANDaids Talent Show, took the top spot. Runners up included USF Health’s acapella group “Say Ahhh! Capella” for singing Hallelujah, and Katrina Watcher and Jameson Kuang for performing “Astonishing” from Little Women.

Now, in its sixth year, the special event hosted by USF Health students, featured 10 acts including singing, dancing, poetry, comedy and musical acts – all to raise funds and awareness for the USF Health BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic. The event also included a silent auction, drawings and other fun activities.

Students behind the USF Health BANDaids for BRIDGE Talent Show.

“This event gives USF Health students the opportunity to showcase their hidden talents,” said Megan Melody, third-year medical student and student director for this year’s BANDaids for BRIDGE Talent Show. “As health students, we spend endless time in the classroom, in the library or in clinics, so this event allows us to have fun for a great cause.”

The BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic, founded in 2007 by four medical students, is a free student-directed clinic that helps serve uninsured patients in the university community area. Since then, the BRIDGE Clinic has transferred its clinical space to the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare on the USF main campus and expanded to a nearby Florida Hospital Tampa site, offering additional nights each month to help meet the demand for access to quality health care.

“It’s amazing how far the clinic has come,” said Sam Crane, MD, co-founder of BRIDGE Clinic, who also attended the event. “We started raising funds by selling hot dogs in front of Walmart. Because of students’ commitment and hard work, BRIDGE is now bigger than any of us. It’s taken on a life of its own.”

Dr. Sam Crane, Co-Founder of BRIDGE Clinic

During his appearance at the event, Dr. Crane announced the BRIDGE Founders Award, created by founding members, Dr. Crane, Dr. Waldo Guerrero, Dr. Omar Hammad and Dr. Shelby Kent. The award will recognize two students every year, who help dedicate their time and talent to the BRIDGE Clinic to help those in need.

“BANDaids for BRIDGE gets bigger and better every year,” said Bryan Bognar, MD, vice dean of the Office of Educational Affairs for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “This event represents the best of USF Health and the best of BRIDGE Clinic– coming together among all interprofessional health disciplines for a great cause.”

The event was a great success due, in part, to official talent show emcees, Melody and Charles Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. They brought a lot of energy and laughs throughout the show.

Dr. Lockwood and USF medical student Megan Melody emceeing the event

The judges didn’t disappoint either. They included Dr. Bognar, Rahul Mehra, MD, alum of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry residency program and Chief Medical Officer of MehraVista Health; Rami Komrokji, MD, associate professor of oncologic sciences and clinical director of malignant hematology at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine; and Joanne Strobbe, MsEd, senior associate vice president for administration, finance and technology, chief financial officer for USF Health, and vice dean for administration, finance and technology for USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Pharmacy student, Bionqua Lynch, sings Rise Up in tribute to BRIDGE Clinic

Sara Silva, staff assistant in the Department of Community and Family Health at the USF College of Public Health, sings Shadow Feet 

Student, Radhika Mehrotra, performs Marathi Indian Dance

Full talent line up:
Lay Low – Max Needham
Fireside – Maria Ngo
Don’t Wait – Bionqua Lynch, Shantel Houston & Raul Soto
Astonishing – Katrina Watcher accompanied by Jameson Kuang
Marathi Indian Dance – Radhika Mehrotra
Dancing with the Professors – James Harrison & Dr. Marzenna Wiranowska
The Voice from Above – Tara Zimmerman
Hallelujah – Say Ahh! Capella
Original Poetry – Kristal Ha
Shadow Feet – Sara Silva
Solo guitar – Shane Leighton (during cocktail hour)
Rise Up – Bionqua Lynch (BRIDGE tribute)

Sponsors for the event included: TJ Couch Family Foundation, Florida Hospital, Jay Carlson Photography, Carol Prokap and PRP Wine International, Joanne Strobbe and Tom MacQuarrie, Dr. Frederick Slone and Sheree Slone, Dr. Lynnette Menezes and Dr. Marian Menezes, Lokesh Coomar, Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, USF Athletics Department, The Oxford Exchange, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants, Tampa Improv Comedy Theater and Restaurant, Yeungling Brewery, The Straz Center for Performing Arts, Tampa Museum of Science and Industry, The Florida Aquarium, Simple Graces Jewelry, Coppertail Brewing Company, Florida Orange Grove and Winery, JC Newman Cigars, and 3 Daughters  Brewing.

To view more photos, click here.

Story by Vjollca Hysenlika
Photos by Vjollca Hysenlika and Sandra C. Roa