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Imagine meeting your new cohort for the next four years and future lifelong friends from behind a large face mask and six feet apart if not through the glow of a computer screen. For medical students in the class of 2024, this was their reality as they began their journey at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) in July 2020.

“Due to COVID-19, our class missed out in getting to know each other. Not only did we have to overcome the struggles of a global pandemic and starting medical school, we had to do it practically isolated from our classmates,” said Amanda Tsuhako, MD 2024 candidate.

Wanting to bond with her classmates, MD 2024 candidate Vera Ong came up with the idea for them to create a music video—a fun project that would allow them to get to know each other outside of class while also showcasing their artistic talents.

“Through this video, we proved to ourselves that a little creativity and a lot of communication can go a long way,” said Ong. She added that her classmates were very receptive to the idea and willing to participate, with many volunteering to sing, act, dance, play musical instruments and edit the video.

Going the distance

The students came up with a number of song options, but ultimately “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana won by a landslide. The planning of the project commenced in July 2020 shortly after they began medical school.

The lyrics were finalized in August, students recorded their instruments and vocals in the Medical Education Building auditorium-turned JABSOM music studio in November, and the video was completed in January 2021.

The project turned out to be a full production complete with 30 individuals involved in the logistics, acting, dancing and creating the music. The music video involved special faculty cameos, including Dean Jerris Hedges, as well as support from faculty and staff throughout JABSOM.

The MD Class of 2024 hopes the video brings joy to all those who watch it and encourages the Hawaiʻi community to continue to stay strong during this pandemic.

For more, see the JABSOM website.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

Kaitlyn Takata playing keyboard
Kaitlyn Takata playing the keyboard above the Kaʻkaako campus.
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