On Saturday, September 10, nearly 200 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) medical students turned out for Corazón de Oro (“Heart of Gold”), an annual community outreach event.
Organized by the health sciences center’s Student Government Association (SGA), Corazón de Oro 2016 drew in students from all three TTUHSC El Paso schools — the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM), the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) — in a mass effort to give back to the community, with stations at various sites throughout the city of El Paso. This year’s event took place at 13 sites, including the Humane Society of El Paso, the Texas Special Olympics, El Paso Zoo, Rescue Mission of El Paso, Gigi’s Playhouse El Paso, and the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence. Volunteers gave their time to a number of services, from groundskeeping work at the zoo to doing arts and crafts with the children at Gigi’s and playing with shelter animals.
Chris Gerzina, vice president of operations in the SGA and second-year medical student at the PLFSOM, spearheaded the 2016 event. “As future medical professionals, I believe a lot of our lives are centered around service — specifically, serving patients. One thing that makes TTUHSC El Paso different is that this service isn’t confined to the clinic or the hospital; we focus on helping the community as a whole. I believe this fosters trust between the community and the medical professionals that serve here,” Chris said.
While TTUHSC El Paso and its students operate numerous community outreach programs throughout the year — such as the free, student-run health clinic in the Sparks community — this year’s Corazón de Oro event was the first-ever to bring together students from all three schools in a collective effort to give back to the community.
Chris’ hope for the future is that “Corazón de Oro and students at TTUHSC El Paso can continue to serve the El Paso community in not only ways seen in its past, but in ways none of us have envisioned yet. I would love to see Corazón grow and see more volunteers each year. As long as the people of El Paso benefit from our service, I’m happy with whatever direction it ends up going.”