Student poetry competition winners honored at scholarship luncheon

Pictured left to right are Miranda Schene, Brooks Jackson, dean of the Carver College of Medicine, Allyson Merfeld, and Marshall Moyer
Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Pictured left to right Miranda Schene, Brooks Jackson, dean of the Carver College of Medicine, Allyson Merfeld, and Marshall Moyer

The University of Iowa is often regarded as “the Writing University” because of its world-renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but an appreciation and commitment to great writing is evident across the entire UI campus—including the Carver College of Medicine.

The college’s Writing and Humanities Program offers elective courses and activities that focus on the humanistic and creative aspects of medicine and medical education. The program also provides consultation and assistance to students preparing their written personal statements for residency interviews or developing research papers or abstracts.

The Writing and Humanities Program also oversees the Humanities Distinction Track, which is designed to encourage and support students interested in scholarship and learning opportunities in creative writing, philosophy, visual arts, social sciences, and related topics.

This fall, with the support of an anonymous donor’s gift, the Carver College of Medicine held a poetry competition for students in the MD, PT (physical therapy), and PA (physician assistant) programs. Three of the competition’s entrants were honored Oct. 17 at the college’s annual scholarship luncheon. First-place ($400), second-place ($300), and third-place ($200) scholarship prizes were awarded and will be applied to the students’ tuition, fees, or academic travel.

Allyson Merfeld

Allyson Merfeld, a student in the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Program, was awarded the top prize for her poem, “Ability”:

Together we grew up

We played, painted, and illustrated

Discriminated, I did not

You walked and looked a bit differently

Due to the disability

But you and I, me and you

Sisters was all we knew to be true

Then came the world It pointed out and indicated


On the differences between us

Separating us I took a step back and contemplated

Feeling frustrated In my mind I debated

Because today, it is constantly stated,

“Be equal and fair”

That’s what they say

Yet lengths of stairs keep people away

Looked around, saw no accommodations

A separation between destinations

So complicated

Navigating through racks in malls

Through the bathroom stalls

So aggravated

To everyone else, it’s so automated

It’s time I stand up and advocated

So each one of us is accommodated

No one is alienated

Everyone is celebrated

Marshall Moyer

Marshall Moyer, a fourth-year MD student, earned second place honors for his poem, “The Curtain”:

elusive Mind; hidden, distant

lost beyond the formless deep 

beloved brother, husband, father

lying still, as if asleep


failed Cognition; left in ruins

seismograph of neural waves

zigg-ed peaks and zagg-ed valleys

shifted like tectonic plates


distraught Family; watching, waiting

languish in the sinking sand

heartbeat returned, without a soul

leaves no ground on which to stand


fiercest Love; untamed, unmeasured

grief becoming inquisition

“You pay Hippocrates lip service,

oath, or imposition?


gathered Knowledge; bells and whistles,

Constant beeping of machines

On the shoulders of your giants

Still no further, have you seen!”


wearied Hope; feeble, frantic

pleads with the Hand that gives and takes

unanswered prayers fall back to earth

my God, my God, do not forsake!


extinguished Life, one story ended

and though we remain uncertain,

I hope a miracle did come,

on his side of the curtain.

Miranda Schene

Miranda Schene, a second-year MD/PhD student in the college’s Medical Scientist Training Program, received the third-place award for her poem, “Change”:

Change comes like a thunderstorm.


First the wind shifts

And the leaves start shaking.


Then the clouds slowly roll in,

And the rhythm of the world slows

as it crawls into hiding,

ready to weather the storm.


The first drop falls.

Then one becomes many

The storm arrives, rises and builds,

And batters the now-empty world.


But change does not pass like a thunderstorm.

When the storm clears, the world returns to normal.

It wakes up, and its rhythm returns.


But you never returned, old friend.

The rains came and went, and the clouds rolled back on a world without you.


That pause, our last good day,

Hoping the storm would slow its approach.


And now the storm has passed

And I must wait alone

For the rhythm to return.