School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Buzz it for Boards raises more than $1,100 for Detroit's Alternatives for Girls

Corey Lake, Class of 2015, cut off two years' worth of hair growth at Buzz it for Boards.

Corey Lake, Class of 2015, cut off two years' worth of hair growth at Buzz it for Boards.

Second-year student Katie Thompson shows off the long ponytail she will donate to the Children with Hairloss nonprofit.

Second-year student Katie Thompson shows off the long ponytail she will donate to the Children with Hairloss nonprofit.

Will Smith, a first-year medical student, raised more than $200 for Alternatives for Girls thanks to family and friends.

Will Smith, a first-year medical student, raised more than $200 for Alternatives for Girls thanks to family and friends.

Medical student Corey Lake was more than ready to cut his flowing locks of hair, which he started growing out shortly before starting classes at the Wayne State University School of Medicine two years ago.

“I’ve usually had short hair. This was really my last chance to have fun and do something different,” he said. “I’ve been growing it out, looking shaggy, goofy and hippy-ish for a while now.”

Lake, a member of the Class of 2015, cut it all off Friday -- two ponytails’ worth – at Buzz it for Boards, a second-year tradition established in 2009 by the School of Medicine’s Class of 2011. The fifth annual fundraiser allowed dozens of M2s to let loose and cheer on their friends who buzzed, cut or donated their hair for a good cause before taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step I in June. (Click here for a short video of the event, and here for photos.)

Donated hair like Lake’s will go to Children with Hairloss, a South Rockwood, Mich., nonprofit whose mission is to provide human hair replacements to children at no cost. Buzz it for Boards also raised $1,225 for Alternatives for Girls, a Detroit-based nonprofit serving homeless and at-risk girls and young women since 1987.

First-year student Will Smith, Class of 2016, collected $230 for Alternatives for Girls by soliciting donations via Razoo.com, an online fundraising website.

“I donated hair before, so I was excited to do something similar,” said Smith, who cut off more than a few inches of his curly blond hair for the cause. Like Lake, he began growing it before medical school.

“It was getting unmanageable,” he added with a laugh. “I researched the organization and it seemed like a really good cause.”

Kate Firlik, Class of 2015, also has donated her hair before, but stopped cutting it in 2005 except a few trims here and there. She raised $410 for the charity, thanks to generous family and friends.

Alternatives for Girls provides shelter, street outreach, educational support, vocational guidance, mentoring, prevention efforts and counseling to empower young women to make positive choices. The charity was chosen by the Class of 2015, which wanted Buzz it for Boards’ donations to stay in Detroit. For more information, visit www.alternativesforgirls.org.

“I really like that they’re doing something tangible in Detroit, so I wanted to help out,” Firlik said.

She also liked seeing her classmates face the clippers while talking, laughing and cheering each other on before they part ways for the summer to study.

“It’s a nice way to bring together people who don’t necessarily see each other all the time,” she said.

Most of the students will spend their summer studying for the USMLE, a comprehensive national medical exam that tests medical students on everything they’ve learned during years one and two of medical school. Students begin studying for the exams as early as the fall before, and ramp up studying after completing coursework in May. It’s one of three exams required to become a licensed practicing physician in the U.S. Students must pass it to move on to clinical years three and four of medical school.

Nick Robell, Class of 2015, also appreciated the last chance to socialize with his classmates, all while helping others. “Things like this are going to be few and far between,” he said. “It’s important for medical students. It shows our community involvement and that we care about people.”

Second-year medical student Hieu Nguyen, who usually wears his hair long, stopped a little short of buzzing it completely. He is getting married in eight weeks, and his fiance, a WSU College of Nursing student he met 11 years ago in California, didn’t want it to be shaved in wedding photos. They moved to Detroit for school.

“We chose Detroit so we could help people,” he said. “Hair is temporary but the cause is an important thing.”

Haircutting and head shaving services were donated by the Douglas J. Aveda Institute in Royal Oak, Mich. Buzz it for Boards has raised more than $12,000 since its launch.
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