Before enrolling in the College of Human Medicine, Donovan Dennis dabbled in fashion as a runway model.
With that part of his life seemingly behind him, and as if he wasn’t busy enough with his medical studies, in the summer of 2022 an idea began forming in his mind.
“I was like, you know what? I’ve been part of the fashion shows,” Dennis said. “I wanted to put together an event.” And then he thought “I should make it medically themed,” a fundraiser for a medical charity.
“And then it kind of gradually came to me,” he said. Why not use medical scrubs as the basis for a fashion show?
Thus, 25 College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine students walked the runway in the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 16, in Anatomy of Fashion: A Runway Show for Charity.
All proceeds – nearly $6,500 from ticket sales and donations – were donated to Care Free Medical, a nonprofit Lansing clinic that provides medical, dental, optometry and behavioral health care to adults and children with limited access to medical care.
“I would say it was very successful,” Dennis said. “It went very well.”
Organizing the show took “a lot of time, a lot of sleepless nights, but it was for a good cause,” he said. “We wanted it to be fun but with a purpose – fashion with a purpose.
“I feel like I can finally breathe, eat, and sleep. It was my idea, but it was completely a team effort.”
The College of Human Medicine Student Council endorsed the idea and formed a committee of six students to plan it. They wrote letters to companies that make medical scrubs, and 18 responded with donations. Additional lightly used scrubs were donated in bins on campus.
Dennis recruited students in the MSU Apparel and Textile Design program to take apart the scrubs and restyle them for the show. With the support of the MSU Fashion Design Student Association, 17 students began cutting apart more than 300 pairs of scrubs and remaking them into apparel a bit more fashionable.
Medical and osteopathic students were recruited to model the fashions, but not because they fit the typical image of runway models.
“I wanted it to be inclusive,” Dennis said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, your height, it just doesn’t matter.”
Now in his second year of medical school, Dennis was drawn to medicine as a child. After earning an undergraduate degree in public health from Brown University, he enrolled in the College of Human Medicine, where he is working toward MD and Master of Public Health degrees. He plans to specialize in child psychiatry.
Despite his demanding schedule, he was willing to see the fashion show through “because I really care about it,” he said. “I love fashion, but particularly when it’s for a cause. We used scrubs, and we raised money for a medical charity, and we’re medical students.
“It bridges my passions.”
This story originally ran on the College of Human Medicine website.