Remember how much you enjoyed field day when you were a kid? The only thing more fun than winning the three-legged race or tug of war was spending the whole day playing outside with your classmates. Students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA get to relive the glory days of their youth, just with grown-up games.
One of the more popular UCLA events for graduate students, the annual Grad Games brings together students from all 18 graduate schools for an afternoon of sports, socializing and fun.
Members of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) organize Grad Games. Jon Warren and Michael Leuchter, both first-year GSA reps from the Medical Student Council, helped to plan this year's event. Here, they explain how it works and why med students need a field day.
About the Grad Games
For hearty, yet friendly competition, the Grad Games ranks among the premier UCLA events. Each year, between 100 and 250 students show off their athletic prowess while making new friends from across campus.
Grad Games events can change from year to year. This year, they included track and field, basketball, volleyball, swimming, flag football, corn hole, dodgeball and table tennis. Each graduate school is invited to form teams for the various events.
"For example, there's a med school basketball team, a public health basketball team, a law basketball team and a few others," explains Warren, who played on the med school team this year. "We'll all compete and earn points for our respective schools. In the end, points are added up to crown one school the winner of Grad Games."
The event culminates in a GSA Grad Bar, where participants can celebrate wins or commiserate losses in the company of their fellow students.
Winning isn't everything
Both Warren and Leuchter, who played on the dodgeball team, hoped to bring home victories for the medical school. However, they were looking forward to the camaraderie as much as the competition.
"It's a great way to branch out and meet people you might not normally cross paths with," says Leuchter. "For example, I might not normally meet people from Arts and Architecture on campus, but I will at Grad Games."
"Everything nowadays is so interdisciplinary," adds Warren. "Medicine is so closely tied to public health, biological life sciences, law and other professions. Making new friends and acquaintances in these areas helps us build our networks and also better understand where people from different specialties are coming from when we interact with them later in our careers."
Grad Games also help students make closer friends in med school. "Medical students see each other all the time, but the classroom environment can be very structured and sterile," says Warren. "It's nice to get out and relax a little — to talk about what you like to do and how you have fun, rather than just your studies."
It's not all about networking. Grad Games is also about having fun.
"It's important to cut loose sometimes, just for well-being's sake," says Leuchter. "Graduate school can be stressful, and it's easy to get siloed off. In med school, I've certainly had the issue of getting caught up in my studies and not going out and seeing what's around me. You've got to make time for fun."
By Taylor Mallory Holland