Kim Alexis Espejo, ASCLS-IL and Region VI Developing Professional Chair

The MLS Club at the University of Illinois Springfield participates in campus events to promote the club and advocate for the medical laboratory science profession.

Medical laboratory science (MLS), the profession, program, and in my case, club, was never a well-known entity at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). As co-president of the MLS Club at UIS, we do plenty to promote our club, program, and profession. Our goal is to broaden the scientific understanding of the diagnostic processes of medical laboratories. The MLS Club hosts many events throughout the year to promote our love of science, which are open to all students and faculty on campus.

Last spring, we did a microbiology E. coli demonstration at our campus’ Health and Wellness Fair. We subcultured the organism on MacConkey agar to show the green sheen it produces. Additionally, we showed the organisms are Gram negative rods under the microscope and had educational information about E. coli. This year we plan to do a Hematology Sickle Cell demonstration and show what sickled RBCs look like under the microscope. Additionally, we will have an educational board about the disease and explain why it is important to get screened, especially for athletes to avoid possible oxygen crises.

We also participate at the UIS campus involvement expo every semester for student involvement. But the biggest event we hold is a lab-inspired carnival. We’ve done it for three years, and all the games have a lab twist, like beaker pong, biohazard bucket toss, anti-booty bounce, etc. At this event we give out free cotton candy and popcorn and do face painting. It is a big hit because students are drawn in with the games and free food, and they end up learning more about MLS.

Another popular event we hold is blood typing events. Not many people know their blood type, so it’s always fun for them to find out. Our program also sponsors blood drives on campus, which are a big success. For Lab Week we plan events such as blood typing, urine drug screen demonstration, cookie blood cell decorating, etc.

Besides events, we also hold fundraisers. Our most popular fundraiser is the annual Poinsettia and Christmas cacti sale. This brings in funds so that our students don’t have to pay to go to the state meeting in the spring.

Furthermore, we participate in service projects. We volunteer as a group for Dance Marathon and the UIS’ trick-or-treat for canned goods. For this we are assigned a neighborhood in town, and the week before Halloween we knock on doors to tell them about the event. Halloween night, we come back to trick or treat, but instead of candy we ask for nonperishable food to donate to the local food bank.

Lastly, we are working with ASCLS-IL to create a parody music video to promote the profession. I think holding fun and interactive events is an excellent way to advocate for the medical laboratory science profession.

Kim Alexis Espejo is a student in the Medical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Editorial Note: The MLS Club at UIS has been very active throughout the social distancing and shelter-in-place recommedations to keep their members connected and visible. Check out their recent activities on the MLS Club at UIS Facebook page.