The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 12, 2001
March 12, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 25


One Man's Passion for the Arts Enriches Lives of Premeds

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Jennifer Lin, a junior on the premed track, is living these days in a world laden with numbers, test tubes and anatomy quizzes. Lin, like all Hopkins premeds, has a full load of science courses and relatively little wiggle room to fit in electives in the humanities. To compensate for this science-dominated lifestyle, Lin tries to find time to paint, draw and take a music lesson here or there.

"I've been involved with the arts since I was little," says Lin, a public health major. "It is a great way for me to relieve my stress and take a break from studying."

Lin also enjoys passing on her appreciation for the arts.

Last semester, when she was volunteering at the South Baltimore Women and Children's Center, she noticed many "bored" faces on the children staying in the homeless shelter. Lin says she knew it was time to bust out the crayons, glue and paper.

Ronald Fishbein, who chairs the selection committee for the Goodman Awards, with this year's recipients: seated, Cindy Liu, Bonnie Chen, Jennifer Lin, Toral Patel; standing, Nahyoung Lee, Priya Sarin.

"I started doing art projects with them. I tried to do as much as I could," Lin says. "They loved it when I came over to work with them, and surprisingly, so did the mothers."

Seeking to expand her artistic operation at the center, Lin became aware of the Louis E. Goodman, M.D., Award, established in 1988 to encourage the cultural and creative interests of Hopkins' premedical students.

Each year a cash award is given to selected juniors to undertake a project in the arts and humanities during the summer before senior year. The goal of the award is to foster the sensitivity of prospective doctors to ideas and matters beyond the realm of medicine. The late Louis Goodman, for whom the award is named, was by profession a surgeon and by avocation an artist.

Lin, one of six Goodman winners this year, says the award is (pardon the pun) just what the doctor ordered.

With the $400 she received, Lin is going to buy supplies and start a more formal art class at the center. She wants those who participate in her art time to graduate from crayons and construction paper to working with watercolors, copper etchings and plaster of paris.

"I really think it will help them. For most, their mentality is bleak; they feel stuck there," Lin says. "I think by bringing the arts to them they will have a way to express themselves, enjoy themselves and create something of their own to take with them when they leave."

Humanitarian projects like Lin's have become indicative of Goodman Award winners in recent years, according to Ronald Fishbein, assistant dean for preprofessional advising in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and associate professor emeritus of surgery in the School of Medicine. One winner last year held band concerts at local hospices, says Fishbein, who chairs the selection committee, and another taught photography principles to HIV-infected adults.

"There has been a tendency for people to do things that involve volunteerism and sharing with the public their talents," Fishbein says, "but we are not prejudiced against someone who wants to do something for personal enrichment. Either way, the goal is the same--to make them well-rounded physicians."

Louis Goodman would definitely fit the mold.

Goodman, a member of Hopkins' undergraduate class of 1934, was foremost a lover of life. He was a sculptor, musician, language aficionado and patron of the arts. Goodman also had an intense fondness for travel and wanted to see and do as much as possible, according to his son, Thomas.

"He drew sustenance from his endeavors outside of medicine," Thomas Goodman says. "That is why he wanted to make sure that prospective doctors were supported to similarly fulfill themselves. He always encouraged the idea of living fully."

Lois Goodman, Louis' wife, says the creation of the award meant a lot to her husband and its continuance has involved the entire Goodman family. For her part, Lois Goodman meets with the award winners each year, inviting them to dinner at the Hopkins Club, where she can hear about their individual projects.

"This award has certainly been rewarding," she says. "Each year the prize winners have been just fascinating young people. We have been very pleased with what they have been doing."

The Goodman Award, originally intended for one recipient, has expanded over the years. This year $3,000 in prize money was allotted and was divided between the six winners.

"We are pleased that we are getting quality people with wonderful proposals," Fishbein says. "So this year, we said, let's see if we can spread the wealth. I think in selecting these six students we have combined both public service projects with personal enrichment, art and music, and domestic and foreign exposure for the Goodman Award. We come up short on the male gender, unfortunately, but that was only because no males applied this year."

Goodman winner Toral Patel, a biomedical engineering major, has a project called "creative constructions" that she will conduct at the Safe and Smart Center on Greenmount Avenue. The center, operated by the university's Office of Community Relations and Volunteer Services, offers educational programs for children and adults and is a space for neighborhood mediation and community meetings.

Patel's project is an art class that targets at-risk teenagers. She will bring in an assortment of art supplies and teach the theories behind the use of each. Patel says she is modeling the project after her seventh-grade art class.

"My teacher encouraged us to do whatever we want. She was great. That is how I learned and came to appreciate art," Patel says. "I basically want to simulate that class for my 10 to 15 students at the center."

Nahyoung Lee, a neuroscience major, also wants to teach, but her medium is music. With her Goodman Award Lee will be giving individual violin instruction to five children, ages 10 to 14, at the Hampden Family Center. In addition, she plans to give piano performances at the Keswick Multicare Center as a form of music therapy for the elderly.

A musician since the age of 5, Lee says she hopes the violin lessons will be a healthy diversion for her Hampden Family Center students, some of whom have been in trouble with the law.

"Through music, I plan to channel that energy that could have gone toward unfavorable hobbies to help them concentrate on something of worth--something with a potential future," Lee says. "Music is something that they can continue and enjoy for the rest of their lives."

Some Goodman winners use the money to express themselves.

Bonnie Chen, a biology major, plans to paint a mural at a school in her hometown of Santa Ana, Calif. She has already received approval from the local school authorities, who will help fund the cost of her supplies.

Chen says she thought of the idea when she learned of the Goodman Awards. "I was part of a group in my high school that painted the school walls every year, but I've never done a mural on my own," she says. "I thought this was a great opportunity to try."

Chen says many of the schools in the area are run-down and she sees the mural as part of a beautification effort. "I'm devoting my whole summer to it," Chen says. "I can't wait."

Other award winners will take their talents oversees.

Cindy Liu, an international studies/international health major, will be returning to her native Taiwan to take instruction in Chinese watercolor and learn to play a traditional stringed musical instrument.

Liu goes to Taiwan for two weeks every summer but says she has only recently been inspired to immerse herself more in the culture. The Goodman Award will help pay for her lessons.

"It wasn't really until I came to Hopkins that I realized how much it meant to me to learn about my roots and share that with other people," Liu says. "When I found out about the award, I thought here was my opportunity to spend that time in Taiwan learning these traditional arts. In Taiwan people really value your talents. In addition to academics, everybody takes music and art lessons."

Priya Sarin, a public health major, plans to use her award when she returns to India with her twin sister. Through the use of skits and other stage performances, the sisters will teach children in a rural community about nutrition and good health habits. Sarin says she also plans on putting on health fairs where she can give out nutritional supplements. People in rural Indian communities have health concerns similar to those in undeveloped countries throughout the world, Sarin says, and the lack of a well-balanced diet has contributed to the prevalence of ailments such as thyroid disease.

Sarin says that in addition to enhancing public health, her project has the dual goal of cultivating interest in the performing arts. The skits, performed in Hindi, will have a musical twist, she says.

"I will tailor the skits to the culture," Sarin says, "something the children can relate to and have fun with. I think it's a great way for them to be introduced to the performing arts."