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Learning Communities: MPOWER

UTHSC MPOWER is a collaboration of faculty, administrators, students, and staff. Through MPOWER, each entering cohort belongs to a community that will follow them from orientation to graduation, fostering academic excellence by exploring six dimensions of wellness – occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

During New Student Orientation week, students are sorted according to backgrounds into team-based learning groups and then paired into MPOWER Houses.  Each house has a diverse group of students with different strengths and interests.


mpower housesThe MPOWER houses are named after notable UTHSC alumni and faculty. Pictured left to right are Alvin Crawford, MD, Sara Conyers York, MD, Lemuel W. Diggs, MD, and Rhea Seddon, MD. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Crawford, Dr. Seddon, and the UTHSC Health Sciences Library Historical Collections)

The houses, named after notable UTHSC alumni and faculty, are the Conyers-York House, Crawford House, Diggs House, and Seddon House. Since mentorship is at the heart of MPOWER, each house has at least seven faculty mentors, who meet one-on-one with M1 students to discuss professional and personal development. Each faculty advisor will also have a support team of 15 to 17 second- through fourth-year medical students, who serve as peer advisers and address the demands and stresses of daily academic life and career choice. Two resident mentors help along with several other mentors from various years make up the rest of the mentoring team.

As part of the house identity and cohesiveness, students will have the opportunity to adopt a charity or outreach and participate in community service or fund-raising project. This project will be a competition among the house, which will not only benefit students from the learning communities, but the Memphis community will help as well. Activities planned throughout the year, including a minimum of four social gatherings to foster social wellness. Several sessions will focus on wellness topics through large-group sessions, peer-to-peer sessions, and house activities with guest speakers.

Crawford House: In 1964, Alvin Crawford, MD, became the first African-American graduate of the UTHSC College of Medicine. Dr. Crawford is an award-winning pediatric orthopedic physician specializing in treating scoliosis and spine abnormalities.

Conyers-York House: Admitted to the UTHSC College of Medicine at age 32, Sara Conyers York, MD, was the first woman to graduate with a medical degree from UTHSC. Dr. Conyers-York graduated first in her class in 1913 and promptly became an instructor in physiology for both the College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy and an instructor in pharmacology for the College of Medicine.

Diggs House: Lemuel W. Diggs, MD, started at then-UT-Memphis in 1929 and spent most of his career as a faculty member of the Pathology Institute, investigating sickle cell anemia. He encountered patients suffering from sickle cell disease in his first few days on the job and went on to make it his life’s work. His abiding interest led to the country’s first comprehensive research center on sickle cell disease established at UT-Memphis in 1971.

Seddon House: A trailblazer for advancing women in medicine, Rhea Seddon, MD, became one of the first six women accepted by NASA and the first female surgeon in space. An alumna of the College of Medicine, Class of 1973, Dr. Seddon worked for NASA for 19 years.

Note: This story is from the most recent issue of UTHSC College of Medicine magazine.

May 26, 2022