On October 21, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program traveled to the Woodlands to give visitors a small glimpse into the interesting and surprising specimens and objects in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection. Longtime readers will recall the Woodlands is a common field trip location for students in the Karabots Program and representatives of the Mütter Museum, including Karabots students, have participated in numerous events hosted by the Woodlands.
Established as the country home of Philadelphia socialite William Hamilton, the Woodlands became an active cemetery in 1840; it is the final resting place of numerous noteworthy Philadelphians, including several Fellows of the College of Physicians, such as Silas Weir Mitchell, John Ashhurst, and William Williams Keen, and the founder of the Campbells Soup Company among other notables. It is also the site of the largest grave marker in the United States, an 84-foot tall obelisk constructed for famous dentist and Penn Dental school founder Thomas Wiltberger Evans.
Our students were on-site as part of the Woodlands annual Halloween Family Fun Day, where visitors come to the historic rural cemetery to take part in fun activities. Visitors of all ages came dressed in costumes for Halloween and there was even a pet costume contest in which a dog dressed as a pumpkin took the grand prize. Our students spent the afternoon in the Hamilton Mansion demonstrating “Mini Mütter,” a sampling of the unique items on display at the Mütter Museum. The Junior Fellows displayed such items as anatomical models, replicas of bones and museum specimens (such as an arm with smallpox and a foot with elephantiasis), preserved brain slides, and a collection of Civil War medical tools. Several students even led anatomy-themed games, challenging visitors to identify bones, label pieces of the heart, and demonstrate using different parts of their brain. Our students acted as great ambassadors for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, showed off their knowledge, and honed their public speaking skills. Just as important, they introduced people young and old to the amazing collections available at the Mütter Museum and offered insights into medicine and human anatomy.
It is the goal of the Out4STEM program to provide a safe, friendly environment for Philly LGBTQ+ Youth who are interested in STEM. CEPI’s recent event, “Boos and Brains” epitomized this sentiment by creating a space for youth to come share their coming out experiences. A collection of high schoolers, college students, and med school students along with young professionals, including members of Project HOME and Penn Medicine, gathered to discuss different studies on where sexuality originates in the brain. Some shared their coming out stories, explaining how “out” they were and whether that differed when they were with family or friends. In keeping with the pre-Halloween theme, they also had the chance to design their own masks representing the faces they put on to the world versus the one they keep for themselves; however, the “masking and unmasking” took place more in their conversations with each other and the support they gave to those who were not “out” for various reasons. The friendly, supportive atmosphere epitomized the goals of the Out4STEM program.
The event was also featured in a recent issue of Philadelphia Gay News.
For the past two years the Out4STEM program has hosted a Masquerade event around the time of Halloween. We started this year’s event on October 29, 2015, with a discussion of Dr. Henry Anonymous who said “I’m a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist” to a convention of the American Psychiatric Association in 1972. He had to wear a mask and a wig to discuss himself or he would have been fired from his job at Temple University. Homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness at that time. 22 years later, Dr. John E Fryer revealed that he was “Dr. Henry Anonymous.” Out4STEM honors this piece of LGBT history with a mask-decorating session where participants decorate a mask with what they show on the outside and what they hide written on the inside. This forms the basis of a discussion on individual identity and the perceptions of others.
This past Saturday, several of out Karabots Junior Fellows helped deliver tricks and treats to visitors of the Mütter Museum.
On October 31, the Mütter Museum hosted its annual Day of the Dead celebration, a fun, family-friendly event honoring the Mexican festival Dia de los Muertos. Visitors to the Museum took part in traditional activities, including designing sugar skulls, paper flower making, and sampling festive foods. Attendees also took part in face painting in addition to exploring the Mütter Museum’s unique, eclectic collection of medical specimens.
What made the event especially memorable were the numerous students from the Karabots Junior Fellows Program who were in attendance. Not satisfied with attending, they donated their time: they volunteered with set-up and clean-up, connected with visitors and even helped out with the activities. They served as great ambassadors for the College, and we are proud of their dedication!