By Sean Paschall

It’s noon on Thursday at Morgan Elementary School during the last week before the annual Sir William Osler’s Name That Book competition for third- and fourth-grade students.

A group of medical students from the University of Texas Medical Branch take a break from their busy schedules and head to Morgan’s library, as the children rush in to greet them.

The medical students have been coming each week since September to mentor the children and help them tackle the 33 books they were challenged to read this year.

After a few hugs and high fives, the children get down to business at the last session of preparation before the big day. Everyone sits down at tables and begins reading books together and practicing for the upcoming Saturday Jeopardy-like competition to be at UTMB’s Levin Hall auditorium.

UTMB medical students created the Sir William Osler’s Name That Book program three years ago as a way to get involved in the local school community.

This year, the program was run by medical students Roxanne Radi and Anita Shah. The program’s goals were to instill a passion for learning in the children and to create a self-sustaining plan with a strong infrastructure.

Radi has been involved since it started. She is a passionate activist in the Galveston community, including years of volunteer work at St. Vincent’s free clinic where she will be a director starting in March. Shah served as a Name That Book reading contest mentor at Oppe Elementary last year, before volunteering to help run the program this year. The event pits teams from each school against one another to determine who has read and remembered the most books from the list.

“It has been a challenge that my third-graders have really risen to,” said Divya Nagpal, principal at Morgan Elementary. “This is their first year to be in English only classes. Earlier this year, they had to read with a dictionary looking up every other word. Now, they aren’t using the dictionaries. It is truly amazing.”

Funds from both the Galveston Independent School District and John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine at UTMB are used to purchase books for each of the schools.

“It has been a privilege to meet so many amazing children over the last three years,” Radi said. “They inspire me because, for them, nothing seems impossible.”

The program derives its name from Sir William Osler, a physician from the 1800s, who is considered the father of modern medicine. His humanitarian spirit and dedication to teaching have become the cornerstones of the medical branch’s Osler Societies.

Sean Paschall is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch and one of the founders of the Sir William Osler Name That Book competition.