Announcing the winners of the 2021 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is pleased to announce the six winners of the 2021 Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest: three by medical students and three by nursing students. First place for medical students is awarded to Ross Perry of the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, and first place for nursing students is awarded to Hunter Marshall of the University of New Mexico College of Nursing.

Second place is awarded to Davina Ran of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Anna Swartzlander of University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, and third place goes to Fletcher Bell of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Jessica Grey of University of Massachusetts, Amherst College of Nursing.

This year’s winning essays feature themes such as bearing witness to an elder patient’s hard-earned truths; deeply listening to learn a patient’s fears, regrets, and hopes; maintaining balance amid overlapping professional and familial duties; and bonding with a stranger through the experience of collective hardship.

“In their reflections on human connection, each of these essays is beautiful, poignant, insightful, and inspiring,” said Elizabeth Cleek, PsyD, Chief Operating Officer of the Gold Foundation. “As with each year before, these essays fill me with a deep appreciation for our clinicians in training and all they promise for our future.”

The winning essays are chosen by an expert panel that includes healthcare professionals, writers/journalists, and educators. The judges selected the winners out of more than 270 entries.

The winning essays will be published in two esteemed journals, Academic Medicine, in the October, November, and December issues, and 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 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. 2021 marks the fourth 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:

“We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind

Are also the moments that make us humans kind;

Let each morning find us courageous, brought closer;

Heeding the light before the fight is over.

When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing

In testing times, we became the best of beings.”

– Excerpt from “The Miracle of Morning,” by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is an award-winning poet and activist who recently made history as the youngest poet in U.S. history to speak at a presidential inauguration. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she began writing at a young age and overcame an auditory processing disorder and speech impediment by reciting challenging song lyrics. Her writing, which focuses on issues of feminism, race, marginalization, and the African diaspora, has won her prestigious speaking invitations including the White House, Library of Congress, and Lincoln Center. She was appointed the first National Youth Poet Laureate by Urban Word and has received several awards and accolades for her work.

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:

2021 Medical Student Winners

First Place

“Dear Reader”
Ross Perry
University of California, Davis School of Medicine

Ross Perry was born in Santa Rosa, California, and is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. After an early career in teaching, he transitioned to a pre-medical post-baccalaureate at Mills College and is in his fourth year at UC Davis School of Medicine with plans to eventually practice in palliative care. Ross is a former officer of the student-run Paul Hom Asian Clinic, co-founder of Davis’s Academic Medicine Student Interest Group, and the co-Wellness Chair for his medical school cohort. In addition to his curricular and clinical activities, Ross enjoys back-packing, playing sports, writing poetry, and spending time with his wife and 11-month-old daughter.


Second Place

Davina Ran
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry


Davy Ran, MSc, MPH, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, an AMA LGBT Standing Committee member, and a former Social Justice Officer at the Workmen’s Circle in NYC. They have been involved in global and public health equity work for over a decade with specialized training in working with the LGBT, Latinx, and disabled communities. Davy is writing and illustrating a book of short stories about being a multiple-minority medical student as part of a year-long Medical Humanities Fellowship. Their overarching goal is to help recruit, support, and mentor other minorities in medicine and ultimately make the field of healthcare a more accessible, inclusive, and equitable space.


Third Place

“Someone Else’s Mother”
Fletcher Bell
Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons


Fletcher is a fourth-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is originally from a farming family in the Midwest. He studied theater history at Brown University before going home to be a substitute pre-kindergarten and elementary school teacher. He did his post-bac at Bryn Mawr. When he is not in the hospital he likes to adventure around New York on  a skateboard, bicycle, or an inflatable kayak. Did you know you can get into the Bronx Botanical Garden for free if you enter via the Bronx River by boat?


2021 Nursing Student Winners


First Place

“New Constellations”
Hunter Marshall
University of New Mexico College of Nursing


Hunter Marshall is a Registered Nurse and family nurse practitioner student at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing.




Second Place

“Nurses Encounter Diversity”
Anna Swartzlander
University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing


Anna graduated in May 2021 with a Master’s in Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nursing and plans to work as an advanced practice registered nurse. Born and raised on the plains of Nebraska, she has been a RN for over nine years and has worked in healthcare for 18 years, primarily with dementia patients. Growing up with parents who both worked in journalism, she quickly learned the power of words and stories. She believes that writing helps her process the day-to-day stress, emotion and passion that inevitably occur in nursing. She aspires to be the most competent and compassionate medical provider possible, and perhaps open her own dementia clinic someday. Meanwhile, she bikes, reads, learns Spanish, cares for her two young daughters, and writes the stories that live within her.


Third Place

“Empty Beds”
Jessica Grey
University of Massachusetts, Amherst College of Nursing


Jessica is a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst enrolled in the Accelerated BSN program. She is a former CNA and aspiring ICU RN.



2021 Honorable Mentions

Rebekah Boyd, fourth year, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, “Bound Together”

Michaele Francesco Corbisiero, second year, University of Colorado School of Medicine, “Through the Partition: Medical Care in Detention Centers”

Levi Brice Edouna Obama, fourth year, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, “Vox”

Benjamin Elliott, second year, Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Pikeville, “Cerumen and Cisplatin”

Kristopher Jackson, nurse practitioner and PhD candidate, University of New Mexico School of Nursing, “Empathy and Expletives”

Jenna Nowlin, second-year master’s student, Regis College, Young School of Nursing, “Untitled”

Bharat Sanders, fourth year, Medical College of Georgia, “Taking Back Our Empathy:

Reflections on a New Model of Medical Education”

Yichi Zhang, Tulane University School of Medicine, “Smile”

Brian Zhao, third year, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, “Untitled”

Michelle Sloane, MPA

Grants/Programs Manager

Manages and administers grants and awards to ensure alignment with the foundation’s overall mission and goals.