Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

ARCOM med students and the community are enjoying a mutual affection

ARCOM med students and the community are enjoying a mutual affection

ARCOM med students and the community are enjoying a mutual affection 


There’s something nice happening too often to be a fluke: Medical students of Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine are falling in love with this city – and vice versa.

Five ARCOM students shared heart-warming encounters with locals that may influence them to live here after graduation. 

A favor done for Dania Abu-Jubara and her twin brother, also a second-year student, convinced them to choose ARCOM. It happened on the day of their admission interview in early 2017.

“We woke up very early for 8 a.m. interviews. There were four inches of snow. We had not rented a car. We were trying to find a taxi or an Uber,” she recalled. “We were just panicking in the hotel lobby. The receptionist came over asked if we were OK.

“He called someone to cover for him. Then, he took us in his own car. He took out the children’s car seats and said, ‘I’m going to take you to school!’”  They tried to protest, she said.

“He said, ‘No, you are the future doctors of Arkansas. I want you to succeed and I’m going to take you.’ He dropped us here. We don’t know how to repay this guy, he’s amazing,” Dania said.

“It stuck to us. All the faculty here is extremely nice and were so excited we were here. We didn’t feel that at any other medical school. This is actual Southern hospitality. We decided we are staying here,” she recalled.

Tall, former Ferris State University basketball player Dan Chilcote, a first-year med student, was in a Walmart check-out line, dressed in an ARCOM T-shirt when a woman cut around his 6-foot-7 frame. If he’d had a ball, she might have gotten the steal from the scholarship athlete. “She stepped between me and the cashier and paid my grocery bill. It wasn’t cheap either, it was 50 or 60 bucks.” He tried to stop her. “I said, ‘You don’t need to do that,’” he said. “She said, ‘Oh honey, you’re doing the greatest thing ever by being here for us. We’re so excited to have you.’”

“It’s different here,” said the Michigan native. “Some of it has been very helpful for me. I tend to do things very fast. Coming down here and seeing how slow things move, it has made me slow down. People are much, much more genuine. You don’t get yes, sirs and yes, ma’ams up north. It’s nice.”

Shanell Gray felt at home quickly – she’s from Inola, Okla., and attended Oklahoma universities for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“My dad has a cowboy ministry there. He, my mom and my two brothers have a family businesses training horses. I grew up with ranching and rodeoing,” she said.

What she loves here is the chance to serve, which she found on a mission to Peru last summer, through Mercy Fort Smith. She spent two years after undergrad school with the Campus Crusade for Christ on evangelical missions. Her husband has a criminology degree and works as a child abuse investigator with the Department of Human Services. The two held a shoe drive for foster children. “We can see putting down roots here,” she said. 

She’s loved that the school has given students to volunteer in a nursing home. In a coffee shop, local volunteer Casey Milspaugh introduced himself and suggested she connect with schools. Now, Gray is planning a health fair for Morrison Elementary. The city has met her servant spirit with open arms. 

Holding back tears is hard right now for Catherine Buell, who said she has been “overwhelmed with amazing kindness” since entering ARCOM. She decided to become a doctor after caring for her mother during her final illness. Her mom’s neurosurgeons encouraged her because Buell educated herself so much during the experience. She’s excited, but entering at an older age than other students is daunting, she said.

“When I interviewed, everyone was waiting on the steps outside. The dean welcomed me. I thought, ‘Wow! You might as well pull up a rocking chair and have some sweet tea,’” she said. “I had to move here quickly (from Washington). A financial aid person offered to bring her husband’s truck and help me move in. I mentioned my car not working – someone in security said, ‘My husband’s a mechanic. Let me help you out.’  One of my professors emailed me and then asked me in person if he could help.”

She surveyed many other schools. “I have lived in a lot of big cities and places where community doesn’t exist,” she said. “That’s why I chose this school. People won’t have to work too hard to get me to live here.”

This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.



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Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online