TouroCOM Middletown Holds First-Ever Diversity Fashion Show
Event Showcases Students’ Backgrounds and Raises Money for Charity
The diversity of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) Middletown students was on full display on January 8 during the school’s first-ever school-wide diversity fashion show held at the Paramount Theater. Students from more than 12 countries strutted the catwalk in traditional attire to a crowd of 150 admirers composed of friends, family, and members of the Middletown community. The event also featured African dancing and musical performances from a Middletown resident and a TouroCOM faculty member.
Funds raised from the event were donated to Jewish Family Services, a non-profit active in the Middletown area.
The gala was the brainchild of OMS II Ruth Sofi, diversity committee chair of Middletown’s Student Government Association. Sofi said the goal of the event was twofold: to allow students to take pride in their culture and to further strengthen connections between the school’s student body and the larger Middletown community.
“Touro students are very involved in the local community,” said Sofi. “Whether it’s through mentoring high school students or helping in the local homeless shelter, TouroCOM Middletown is a part of this town, so I wanted to create a show that would bring everyone together and celebrate who we are.”
Aside from the clothing itself, the event also showcased the diverse student body of TouroCOM with students hailing from Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Ghana, Jamaica, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Mexico. Clothing included saris, Colombian peasant blouses, and Pakistani lehenga dresses.
TouroCOM Middletown’s Assistant Dean of Students Frank Rose spoke during the event and highlighted the importance of diversity in TouroCOM education. “One of the most important things we look for in a Touro student is what you have done to serve others—especially those outside your own community, those who may not look like you, eat like you, have the same beliefs as you, or come from the same economic background,” said Dean Rose. “This is truly not only a part of being a good physician in the future, but an empathetic one: a physician who will listen and understand their patient no matter where they are coming from.”
A video during the event featured students speaking about what diversity means to them. “I think the diversity fashion show was a very important event for us,” said OMSI Haridja Kaybuyi Ilunga, who took the stage dressed in a Liputa, a vibrant dress worn in Congo for weddings and special occasions. “We were able to share each other’s culture. It wasn’t just the clothing itself, but also the history of the clothing, so we could learn new cultures and styles.”
OMS II Paola Arteaga said the event was emblematic of the attitude in TouroCOM Middletown. “No matter where you come from, we are open and receptive to each other,” she said. “That’s the beauty of Touro.”