A chapter of Sigma Sigma Phi (SSP) has been established at BCOM, and 32 members of the class of 2020 were recently inducted into this honorary osteopathic service fraternity. SSP aims to, “improve the scholastic standing and promote a higher degree of fellowship among its students.” It is also closely tied to the principles and teachings of the American Osteopathic Association.
Acceptance into SSP is extremely selective, with membership limited to only 25 percent of each class. Candidates must have already completed at least one semester of medical school and have a cumulative grade average above 80 percent to be considered for membership. Applicants are also evaluated based on academics, leadership, service, awards, and personal characteristics, and they must submit a short essay explaining what they hope to accomplish in the fraternity.
The service element is particularly significant in SSP. Applicants must have completed at least two community service activities within the past year, for a minimum of 10 hours, to even be considered. On average, the BCOM applicants had more than 25 hours each, meaning the 32 students inducted this semester have already completed an estimated combined total of more than 820 hours of community service in the past year, many carried out within Las Cruces and the surrounding area.
DO student Mohan Muvvala spent 40 hours chairing a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund project, as well as volunteering 12 hours at the El Caldito Soup Kitchen, six hours with La Casa Inc., three hours on a holiday project for children in Mexico, and another two hours with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. Muvvala also cofounded the BCOM SSP chapter with fellow student Robert Lyday, and he is currently serving as the chapter president.
Another student, Mikhail de Jesus, said his community service projects entailed mentoring a premed student from El Paso, wrapping holiday gifts for families living in a domestic violence shelter, assisting with a 5k fun run fundraiser, and volunteering at La Casa Inc.’s Purple Gala.
Those service projects are just the beginning. All SSP members are required to complete at least another 20 hours before the end of the school year, while students that join during their second year of medical school must participate in 40 hours of community service. On top of that, each newly-inducted member must lead one service event during their first year in SSP.
Mackenzie Goodrich said she plans to set up a breakfast soup kitchen in Las Cruces. “Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Yet, it is often the meal overlooked at soup kitchens,” she said.
De Jesus hasn’t officially decided on his big SSP project, but he already has several other service activities in the works. He is the secretary for the BCOM Student Osteopathic Surgical Association (SOSA), which is hosting a health fair in December covering topics such as arthritis education, mental health, and tobacco prevention and cessation. “SOSA also brings a group of students to El Caldito soup kitchen once a month to help with meal preparations and serving food, and I am assisting with the Sierra Middle School field trip that’s coming to BCOM in November,” he added.
Muvvala added that plans are in the works to start a chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Program, a similar endeavor that focuses on patient care and humanism in medicine, and another round of SSP applicants will be accepted at the beginning of the spring semester and again in fall 2018.
Muvvala said, “Acceptance into SSP is a selective process; it’s a privilege to be asked to join. This organization really incorporates the osteopathic philosophy of helping both your school and your community—which is very much in line with the mission of BCOM itself.”
Congratulations to these BCOM students for their recent induction into Sigma Sigma Phi:
Fernando Magana Herrera
Mikhail de Jesus
Ann-Sophie Van Backle