Hundreds of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine Students Fan Out Across Brooklyn On Borough-wide Day of Service

Aug 7, 2019

250 College of Medicine Students to Visit 11 Sites for Service Learning During Orientation on August 6

Brooklyn, NY – Embodying SUNY Downstate’s motto, “to learn, to search, to serve,” 250 students from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine will volunteer at nearly a dozen Brooklyn community service programs on August 6. The students will disperse to 11 sites across the borough, including children’s summer camps and adult rehabilitation centers, for an afternoon of service learning as part of their College of Medicine orientation. 

“Service learning is a thoughtful approach that combines learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good,” said SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “Using this teaching and learning strategy as part of our orientation is a great way to introduce our medical students to the Brooklyn community where they will live and learn. It also encourages them to embrace their responsibility to serve wherever their careers in medicine take them.”

To reflect the range of populations and needs in Brooklyn’s many communities, each student will choose a focus area for their service learning experience ranging from mental health to child services, homelessness to park cleanup, the needs of adults with disabilities to animal rescue. After engaging with community partners in one of these areas, students will debrief as to how their service learning experience influenced their personal and professional growth. 

“It is especially meaningful for our incoming medical students to give back to Brooklyn, because the best healthcare professionals feel a strong sense of responsibility to their community,” said Dr. Madiha Akhtar, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at SUNY Downstate and one of the organizers of the August 6 event. “We are excited to see our students support and uplift local organizations as they prepare to begin their academic journeys.”

A full list of the 11 service learning volunteer locations includes:

  • Beacon Summer Camp (summer camp)
  • East Flatbush Village (summer camp)
  • Infant & Child Learning Center
  • SUNY Pediatrics Center
  • Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehab Center 
  • East New York Club House (Adults with Disabilities)
  • Without Walls (Adults with Disabilities)
  • Committee to Improve Carrol Park
  • Sean Casey Animal Rescue
  • Masbia Soup Kitchen- Coney Island
  • Boys & Girls Club 

Service Learning has been a component of the College of Medicine’s orientation for the last 7 years, introducing more than 1600 students to the Brooklyn community, its varied needs, and opportunities for service during their time at Downstate.

The Service Learning event is coordinated annually by the Division of Student Life and the Division of Student Affairs.


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.