Next Generation of CCO Leaders Share Words of Encouragement
by Emma Mattson
“The biggest thing on my mind is reuniting our School of Medicine family after the COVID time,” says Leland Dunwoodie (M4), who took office this spring as the Executive President of the Council of Class Officers (CCO).
Dunwoodie, who has served as president for the Class of 2022 for the past three years, said his leadership this year will focus on bringing out the strengths already latent in the VUSM student body.
“What makes our school different from other med schools is how much people like being here and like each other,” Dunwoodie said. “That comes from how small our class is but, more importantly, how our curriculum is structured.”
Last year, COVID regulations changed the way that med students could spend time together, but Dunwoodie said he’s excited to make sure the community bonds— especially among younger classes— are just as strong as ever.
After all, that feeling of community is what drew Dunwoodie to CCO in the first place.
“Getting to meet new people and talking to some of my upperclassmen friends, [the class president] seemed like an advocacy role for classmates,” Dunwoodie said. “I could tell that my classmates were going to be some of my absolute best friends for these four years and a lot longer, so I said, ‘Hey, if I can advocate for their amazing ideas, that sounds like fun.’”
M4 Tim Schurz, who serves as vice president alongside Dunwoodie, said the VP role’s focus on service and inter-class unity originally attracted him to CCO.
“It was really exciting to get a chance to work with the other classes,” Schurz said. “I saw it as a cool opportunity to bring our class [the Class of ‘22] to the other classes.”
Over the past few years, Schurz saw firsthand the exciting development of the Social Mission Committee (SMC) and how his predecessor, Natalie Morales, adapted the CCO VP responsibilities to collaborate most effectively with SMC.
“There was a lot of thought that went into that this last year, and I’m excited to see how those things can now be implemented this coming year,” Schurz said.
Per Schurz, the VP position responsibilities are still somewhat in flux, but Schurz is sure of one thing: he wants to help the med student body take the lessons learned during COVID to strengthen the community.
“Med school is going to be med school, and we’ll have ups and downs and tough classes and tests to study for,” Schurz said. “But sometimes the things we take for granted are the people in our lives— the people that are with us here as classmates and people that are away as family and friends.”
“We were already such a strong community,” Schurz said. “I’m excited to see how much stronger we can become even through this shared experience.”
Besides leading CCO, Dunwoodie also serves as the Vanderbilt Medical Association’s primary representative to the Alumni Association and the All-University Council.
His words of encouragement to his classmates? Trust in the amazing faculty and friends around you— and don’t forget your own wellness, too.
“We’re here to learn and we’re here to struggle and we’re here to become more well-rounded medically,” Dunwoodie said. “That’s just going to happen because we’re fortunate to be in a place with amazing culture.”
“So never lose sight of our personal wellbeing, whatever that wellbeing journey looks like for each of us.”