Announcing the winners of the 2020 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is pleased to announce the six winners of the 2020 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest. First place is awarded to Mahima Sukumar of the Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and Emily Friedman of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Second place is awarded to Grace Ro of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Lisa Cross of Susan and Alan Solomont School of Nursing at UMass Lowell, and third place goes to Grace Ferri of Boston University School of Medicine and Sonia Max of University of Maryland School of Nursing.

This year’s winning essays feature themes such as the deep human connection that can be formed amid the progression of dementia, the power that exists in having compassion during a patient’s scariest moments, and the support of family members through the loss of their loved one.

“The essays this year beautifully highlight the interconnections between us – how we learn from one another, and how being open and humble in the face of that learning expands our work, our impact, and our experience,” said Elizabeth Cleek, PsyD, Chief Operating Officer of the Gold Foundation. “As with each year before, the essays speak volumes about our clinicians in training and their capacity for healing.”

First-, second-, and third-place essays for both nursing and medical students are chosen by an expert panel that includes healthcare professionals, writers/journalists, and educators. The judges selected the winners out of more than 300 entries.

The winning essays will be published in two esteemed journals, Academic Medicine, in the October, November, and December issues, and the Journal of Professional Nursing, in the September/October, November/December, and January/February issues. Academic Medicine is published by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Journal of Professional Nursing is published by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Both organizations are key supporters of the annual essay contest and partners of the Gold Foundation. This marks the third year that the contest has included nursing students.

The Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest prompts medical and nursing students to engage in a reflective writing exercise that illustrates an experience in which they or a team member worked to ensure humanistic care.

This year, students were prompted to share stories inspired by the quote:

“Medicine cannot heal in a vacuum; it requires connection.” – In Shock, by Dr. Rana Awdish

A critical care physician, Dr. Awdish is Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and the Medical Director of Care Experience for the Henry Ford Health System. Her memoir, In Shock, is based on her own experience as a patient needing acute care. She was also the Gold Foundation’s 2019 Jordan J. Cohen Humanism in Medicine Lecturer at the AAMC Annual Meeting.

The essay contest is named for Hope Babette Tang-Goodwin, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, whose devotion and generosity to the care of the children and infants with HIV infection in New York City was an inspiration to her colleagues and her students. Her approach to medicine combined a seemingly limitless enthusiasm for her work, intellectual rigor and deep compassion for her patients.

The Gold Foundation congratulates all of this year’s winners and honorable mentions:

2020 Medical Student Winners

Mahima Sukumar

First Place
“Seams” by Mahima Sukumar, Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine

Mahima Sukumar is a second-year medical student at the Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She has served as an editorial board member for Literary American Medical Women’s Association and Arbor Vitae . Growing up in central New Jersey, she spent much of her time at the public library, nestled between the shelves, reading and writing short stories and poems. She enjoys writing about community, connection, and identity. As a medical student, she has connected to and learned from patients through her school’s longitudinal clinical experience program. She is passionate about mentorship, scientific inquiry, and advocacy in medicine.

Grace Ro

Second Place
“The Hidden Healer” by Grace Ro, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Grace Ro is a fourth-year student at Rutgers NJMS. She graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience. She plans to apply to Psychiatry residency programs this fall. She has a passion for music, mentorship and education, and hopes to pursue a career where she can combine them with medicine. She enjoys playing the violin, singing, golfing, planning events and photographing candid moments.


Grace Ferri

Third Place
Grace Ferri, Boston University School of Medicine

Grace Ferri is a third-year student at Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University in biochemistry and molecular biology and is involved in structural biology research.




2020 Nursing Student Winners

First Place
“In Good Hands” by Emily Friedman, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Emily Friedman

Emily Friedman is a Women’s Health & Adult-Gerontology Primary Care nurse practitioner student at Vanderbilt University. Originally from Massachusetts, she worked in a psycho-oncology and behavioral medicine research group at the Massachusetts General Hospital before attending nursing school. Her clinical interests include oncology, palliative care, sexual health, and community health. When she’s not studying or in clinical, she enjoys hiking, community gardening, reading radical political theory, and creative writing.


Second Place

Lisa Cross

“Good Enough” by Lisa Cross, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Lisa Cross is a doctoral candidate at the PhD nursing program, Solomont School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Lowell, entering her fourth year and Clinical Nursing Instructor at North Shore Community College, Danvers, Massachusetts.




Sonia Max

Third Place

“Mia” by Sonia Max, University of Maryland School of Nursing

Sonia graduated with a MS from the Clinical Nurse Leader program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. She works on the Vascular Surgery Progressive Care Unit at University of Maryland Medical Center and plans to pursue a career in public/community health focusing on disease prevention and improving health literacy.


2020 Honorable Mentions

  • Amber Lekey, third year, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Morgan Barnes, first year, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Graduate School of Nursing, “A Critical Care Connection”
  • Katrina Hannemann, third year, St. Catherine University, “Medicine cannot heal in a vacuum, it requires connection”
  • Kelly Soto, third year, Oregon Health & Science University, “The Hallway of Power & Connection”
  • Mark Alshak, third year, Weill Cornell Medical College, “For my Daughters / For my Sons”
  • Caitlin McCarthy, fourth year, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, “To the Medical Student Crying in the Hallway”
  • Heather Gochnauer, fourth year, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, “Dr. Sunshine”
  • Yuna Oh, third year, Weill Cornell Medical College, “Medicine cannot heal in a vacuum; it requires connection”
  • Kelsey McNew, fourth year, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, “Greg and (Regrettably) Me”
  • Eleanor Wade, fourth year, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, “Nightshift”