Natasha Dardashti staff writer
This ceremony was held by students and Colleen Lynch, the MSA Coordinator, where they expressed gratitude toward the hospital at Cedars-Sinai for allowing them to volunteer for the past few years. Juniors, seniors and alumni expressed appreciation for Cedars by giving speeches about their experiences and passion for the volunteer work.
“We are always missing the central gap, and that gap is the patient. Cedars allows us to actually immerse ourselves in a medical environment where we can learn and talk to nurses and doctors,” senior Stanley Wu said. “We can even talk to patients themselves about experiences they have in the hospital. I find that is a very central component and one of the starting points in being a doctor, a nurse or anyone involved in the medical field.”
Director of Volunteers Barbara Leanse attended the event. There, she was awarded with a plaque for playing an immense role in the volunteer lives of MSA students.
“I was speechless! It’s humbling to know we’ve touched your lives. I have a connection now. I have such a motivation to work harder for you,” Leanse said.
Another familiar face to MSA students made an appearance, Teen Volunteer Coordinator Khyrysta Renteria. As the frontwoman of the program at Cedars, Renteria feels a very strong connection to the students and her job.
“I get to interact with teens who are super grateful, and who love to come to Cedars, which really makes [my] job worthwhile. At 3 o’clock when I know they’re coming in, it makes me excited to be there and to support them,” Renteria said.
The MSA program is a textbook course like any other, yet both students and Lynch feel as though volunteering at Cedars really helps students get a more accurate depiction of working in the medical field.
“The smells, the patient interaction…we can discuss it in our classroom, but they don’t get the exposure to what they might like or not like about healthcare. As they go onto college and later careers, it helps them make better decisions about their future. That’s the whole reason [for
volunteering at Cedars],” Lynch said.
Through it all, Leanse is positively impacted by helping MSA students discover their passion through the medical field.
“I feel like I’m nurturing the coming generations of nurses, doctors, social workers, and just people who are responsible. We’re here to support them and help them along their journey,” Leanse said.