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Supporting Students at Every Turn

If Taryn Weinstein had any lingering doubts about moving her family from a New York City suburb to New Hampshire’s leafy Upper Valley, they were settled on a recent trip back to visit family and friends.

“We were driving down one of the expressways in New York and my husband, who is a hardcore Long Islander, said, ‘everything just looks so different here now,’” says Weinstein, MS, who became Geisel School of Medicine’s director of Student Affairs several months ago. “It was a clear sign to us that ‘home’ was now in a different place.”

For years, Weinstein and her husband, both lifetime New Yorkers, had coped well enough with long commutes to and from the city for work and the high cost of living in Long Island, but that all changed after their two children (now ages 2 and 5) were born. “We were spending so much time commuting and on childcare,” she says. “We wanted to change our lifestyle and give our kids a different environment to grow up in.”

The Geisel opportunity also gave Weinstein the chance to make a meaningful adjustment to her career path. “For many years, I worked in medical school admissions, which I liked,” she explains. “After having kids, I took a position closer to home working in pre-health advising for a college and found that I really enjoyed working with students more closely and forming a longer-term relationship with them. But I missed the medical school environment.”

At Geisel, she gets to do both. “My role involves working in a variety of ways to help keep the students happy, healthy, and successful in all of their endeavors,” says Weinstein. “I feel truly lucky to work with such an amazing, hard-working team here in the Office of Student Affairs and Diversity and Inclusion. I’m inspired by their dedication and commitment to the students every day.”

Weinstein loves the multifaceted nature of her job. “No two days are the same,” she says, offering a few examples of activities. “We plan events like the weeklong Orientation for new students in August, which includes a community service day where students do volunteer work with local organizations, and the White Coat Ceremony in October. And we support student-led events like the national Physicians for Human Rights conference that Geisel hosted in early November.”

But activities don’t have to be done on a large scale to be appreciated. “Recently, we put out healthy snacks as ‘brain food’ for the year-two exams,” she says. “And several students popped in just to say ‘thank you,’ which was really nice. Those kinds of interactions didn’t happen very often in the much larger medical school I used to work at. I’ve been very impressed with the sense of community here.”

In another aspect of her role, Weinstein provides students with Careers in Medicine information, which involves disseminating specialty resources from the AAMC, planning workshops, and inviting speakers for “career lunches” who come to talk about their particular specialties. “Many times, students can end up with mentors from these interactions,” she says.

Social activities, like the post-quiz field trips she organizes for first-year students, have helped make her own transition to the Upper Valley more enjoyable. “For example, I took them to Riverview Farm for apple picking in Plainfield—that was so much fun, I took my husband and kids back there.

“We’ve settled in well as a family, and we’re enjoying the area and all it has to offer,” adds Weinstein. “And with the recent staff additions we’ve been able to make in our office, which include an advising and wellness coordinator, we’re looking at some of the ways we can enhance our services to the students. It’s a really exciting time to be at Geisel.”