Weekly Features


Third annual 'Shave the Date' carnival raises funds -- and razes hairs -- for a cause

Apr. 24, 2014

IU School of Medicine students recently took some time out of hectic end-of-the-semester schedules for a little food, fun and relaxation at a special event designed to not only entertain but also raise funds for a good cause.

The third annual Shave the Date carnival and fundraiser took place on the lower level of the IUPUI Campus Center on April 8. The carnival is a fun-filled event with a serious cause -- all funds raised go to support the Annique Wilson-Weekes Scholarship of Excellence, which honors a beloved member of the IU School of Medicine Class of 2014 who passed away from gastric cancer during the second week of her second year of medical school.

"This carnival is just one of the ways we work to raise funds for the scholarship," said Ashley Suah, a fourth-year medical student and event co-organizer. "Annique was a classmate and one of our best friends. She was a brilliant woman, a mom, a friend, a sister; she really impacted our lives in the short time that we knew her. We couldn't allow her to pass away without doing anything in her memory, especially as medical students who want to spread awareness about cancer."

Carnival activities included free food and drinks, a "hip-hop dance off" and games such as corn hole, a roulette wheel, inflatable Twister and a life-sized game of Operation. But the main attraction was the 16 students, staff and faculty who volunteered to have their heads shaved or hairs cut, with carnival visitors contributing donations to the bucket of their favorite volunteer. The hair of the female volunteers was later donated to "Locks of Love," a nonprofit organization that provides wigs to pediatric cancer patients.

A faculty member and a staff member also deigned to get a pie in the face in the name of the cause.

Simon Rhodes, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science at IUPUI and an adjunct professor at the IU School of Medicine, was among the faculty members who volunteered for both a pie in the face and a head shaving. His participation stemmed from a personal connection to Weeks-Wilson.

"This is a wonderful thing they're doing in her memory," he said. "I knew Annique when she was working on her master's degree and served as a letter writer for her application to the medical school. I think what everyone remembers about her was her 'light-up-the-room' personality. When she came into a place, everything would get happy."

Also volunteering for a pie in the face was Dennis Deal, director of medical student records in the Office of Medical Student Affairs. IUSM faculty members who participated in the head shaving included Robert Einterz, M.D., director of the AMPATH Consortium and associate dean for global health at the IU School of Medicine.

This year's carnival raised about $2,500 for the scholarship, with the overall three-year fundraising total approaching a goal amount of $20,000. The IUSM Dean's Office has pledged to match funds raised up to $42,000 by July 1, according to student organizers.

"We're doing a huge push to raise $40,000 more this graduation season," said Amy Dreischerf, also a member of the Class of 2014 and event co-organizer. "If every student in our class, or their parents on their behalves, donates $100, we know we can meet that goal."

A boost of this size would push the fund over $100,000 after the dean's office contribution, passing the threshold required to create an endowed scholarship to benefit underrepresented students at the School of Medicine. The achievement would make the Class of 2014 the first class to establish a recurring scholarship before graduating.

Also ensuring the continuation of the scholarship's fundraising legacy is the increasing engagement of students beyond the IU School of Medicine in events such as the carnival. Co-sponsors for the event included for the first time this year both the Graduate Professional Student Government and the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization, or UPnGO.

"Our primary goal was to raise money for the scholarships, but we also wanted to promote collaboration with graduate and professional student organizations because, as a whole, graduate students don’t typically leave the lab and mingle with other graduate students," said Aqilah McCane, a graduate student in the School of Science at IUPUI and a member of GPSG and UPnGO. "This is something we're interested in doing year after year."

Also a member of the executive board of UPnGO is Angelique Hernandez, a member of the IUSM Class of 2014, who helped foster the collaboration. Additional IUPUI community members who have helped advance the scholarship include Angela Espada, J.D., associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion at IUPUI, who has contributed advice to student organizers, as has her husband, Jose Espada, director of financial aid at the IU School of Medicine.

To make a tax deductible donation to the Annique Wilson-Weekes Scholarship of Excellence fund, visit the IU Foundation or contribute via PayPal at the AWWSE website.

See all photos »