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KU School of Medicine’s A Grand Affair marks its 25th anniversary

After going virtual in 2021 and being postponed in 2022, the 2023 event returns to its traditional time and format, with dinner, dancing and awards.

Dr. Mancillas stands at a podium, holding an award
Annabel Mancillas, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in KU School of Medicine, accepted the 2023 Rainbow Award, the highest award given during A Grand Affair. Photos by Kacy Meinecke Photography.

The University of Kansas School of Medicine celebrated the 25th anniversary of A Grand Affair on Jan. 14 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The formal event is a celebration of the work of medical students, staff and faculty as well as an opportunity for the medical students to show their appreciation to their educators and mentors.

“Every year, we set aside this night to celebrate our medical students’ commitment to and passion for their chosen profession,” said Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, dean of KU School of Medicine.

The event returned to its traditional time of mid-January after being moved to mid-March in 2022. At that time, the change was due to concerns about the rise in the COVID-19 variant Omicron in the Kansas City area. A Grand Affair was held as a virtual event in 2021 because of the pandemic.

Rainbow Award

A Grand Affair’s pinnacle prize is the Rainbow Award, presented to the faculty member who exemplifies professionalism in medicine and the willingness and capacity to mentor others. The 2023 winner was Annabel Mancillas, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Mancillas practiced as a registered nurse for three years before entering KU School of Medicine and graduated in 2011. She completed post-graduate training at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and then worked for five years as an obstetrician/gynecologist in the Kansas City area. She is fluent in Spanish and has participated in multiple medical trips to Latin America.

Ethan Kallenberger stands at a podium
Ethan Kallenberger, a KU School of Medicine student from
the Class of 2024 and co-president of the Medical Student
Assembly Executive Board, greeted guests at A Grand Affair.
The board helps to recognize faculty and other mentors via
student-selected awards.

She joined the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2021. “I entered medical education because I felt like there was more that I was meant to do,” Mancillas said. “Working with medical students, especially while fulfilling my passion of providing care to underserved communities, gives me hope that I can continue to foster that altruistic calling that brought so many of us to the medical profession.”

A student who nominated Mancillas for the Rainbow Award wrote, “I felt compelled to nominate Dr. Mancillas because of her exemplary traits that make her an incredible clinician and teacher. … With Dr. Mancillas, no question is stupid. She makes students feel comfortable and allows students to learn by action.”

Mancillas said the Rainbow Award was an honor. “To be nominated by the medical students, the people who witness your direct patient/physician interactions and how you practice medicine, is such an honor because the medical students see exactly who you are as a physician on a daily basis,” she said.

Additional nominees for the 2023 Rainbow Award included:

  • German Berbel, D.O., associate professor of surgery
  • Meredith Gray, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology
  • Lyndsey Kilgore, M.D., assistant professor of surgery
  • Mike Rouse, D.O., assistant professor of internal medicine
More award winners

Many more awards were presented at A Grand Affair. Yegor Pashchenko, M.D., a resident in the Department of Surgery at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, was given the Excellence in Residency Award. “His care for medical students was apparent not only in his personal interactions with us, but in his dedication to teaching,” his nominator wrote. “I've lost track of the amount of times I've seen Yegor sitting down with us students for a few hours to go over oral board cases and to answer all of our questions.”

The Ad Astra Award is given to the physician who donates time to the education of KU medical students and exemplifies excellence and professionalism. The 2023 winner is David Grantham, M.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at KU School of Medicine-Wichita.

Locke Uppendahl, M.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at KU School of Medicine-Wichita accepted the Sunflower Mentoring Award. This honor allows students to recognize an outstanding part-time physician educator.

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