NASHVILLE, Tenn. Four students squatted over empty 2-liter bottles, their knees pressed together in an effort to clutch a single pen and position it over the bottles’ respective – and tiny – openings.
The first student wobbled. The second swayed. The third even giggled.
Behind them stood a lively wall of other students. They clapped. They cheered. They jumped.
On any other evening at the Cal Turner Family Center at Meharry Medical College (MMC), this would look strange indeed. For Whose Central Line Is It Anyway, an annual Meharry-Vanderbilt Student Alliance (MVSA) variety show that returned for its fourth event on February 21, 2020, this was actually routine.
The aforementioned competition was aptly named “Pen In a Bottle.” Teams of students from both MMC and Vanderbilt University, grouped according to their respective classes, struggled to drop pens in soda bottles using only their legs.
It’s become a recurring game for the event, which raised funds this year for the Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center.
Other competitions included trivia – which featured offbeat, outlandish and sometimes even bizarre questions – and a new game called “Watch Your Mouth.”
Students tackling that endeavor wore what Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Program Manager Jessica Jones, MS called a “dental contraption” and tried to speak, while their teammates interpreted.
“It was hysterical,” Jones recalled. “Some got it right off the bat. Others struggled and never got it. It was hilarious.”
Unconventional competition wasn’t the only thing to take center stage that night. Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student Cooper March, Vanderbilt’s VMS Dance club and alternative folk artist J Lind also took the spotlight with their own respective performances.
Meharry student Fola Oladeji and Vanderbilt student Tm Schurz, meanwhile, served as Masters of Ceremonies.
“I was really impressed with the banter among them all,” Jones said. “You could tell it was a place for them to let their hair down and relax. It was the break they needed.”
Elam Mental Health Center
Proceeds from the event benefitted the Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center, which provides health services and trains mental health care professionals to conduct research that addresses psychiatric needs. Its primary focus is substance abuse addiction treatment.
“At the end of the night,” Jones remembered, “we’d raised around $850, but Fola said, ‘I know we’re med students and money is tight, but dig into your pockets if you can.’”
His push worked. By the time the event ended, it raised $1,123.
“It was really impressive,” Jones said. “You could tell they really enjoyed themselves.
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.