Super Night Tradition Preserved

Since 1978, the eve of Match Day has been a night for costumes, community, and celebration among VP&S students. Founded by the late Michael Kesselbrenner’78, Super Night has traditionally brought members of the graduating medical class together the night before the residency match for dinner, skits, performances, and videos. Each year’s event features a theme, which ranged in recent years from the Olympics to the Oscars and from superheroes to Super Nintendo. 

The Class of 2020 planned a celebration featuring their favorite childhood cartoons, but as with all other events scheduled for the first half of 2020, Super Night was cancelled. “It was about two weeks in advance of the event that we found out that Super Night was cancelled,” says Jenna Lanz’20, who was working with classmate Kyle McCormick to produce the evening’s video. 

“We had maybe 60% of the video done when the event was cancelled. At that point, Kyle and I had a meeting to decide, ‘Do we want to take some time to refocus and maybe present the video at a later date closer to graduation?’” she recalls. But amidst the uncertainty and mounting anxieties of the pandemic, the two decided that some traditions are too important to delay. 

“The whole purpose of Super Night is to give us something to do when we would otherwise be sitting at home, very nervously thinking about our future and what’s going to happen the next day when we get our envelopes,” Dr. Lanz recalls. “We wanted to give the class something that would serve a similar purpose, even though we couldn’t be together.” With two weeks until Super Night, the pair decided to hunker down and finish the video.

The night before Match Day, the video’s final cut came together as the Class of 2020 gathered on Zoom to watch, laugh, and reminisce. The video opened with a mock teaser trailer set to an iconic Disney score. “Coming to your apartment,” the title card read, “with 25 or less of your closest friends.”

The video chronicles the weeks leading up to Match Day in a series of scenes that parody the match process and the anxieties that come with it. Apropos of this Super Night’s place in history, the pair added a skit featuring COVID-19. In it, Dr. McCormick parodies a mid-March announcement that the university expects no interruptions to medical education, until an impromptu update arrives via email. “Okay, so it turns out that nothing will be proceeding as normal!” she says with a clap of her hands. With each successive cut from the email to the podium, Dr. McCormick dons more and more personal protective equipment (PPE), reaching head-to-toe coverage just as the message notes that hoarding PPE is absolutely not necessary.

“It made a lot of people laugh,” recalls Mary Raddawi’20, class president. “I think students were excited and relieved to have something to look forward to. It’s a strange time to be graduating. I think there’s this extra feeling of eagerness to be helpful, an eagerness to start. At the same time, COVID-19 adds a lot of anxiety to starting residency on top of the normal Match Day anxiety that we all already feel.”

As the video neared its end and faculty members offered recorded words of congratulations, thanks, and encouragement, Drs. Lanz and McCormick began receiving grateful messages from their classmates. 

“I felt like I connected with a lot of students I wasn’t able to see that night, which was what we wanted to accomplish with sending the video out that night, despite not having the event,” Dr. Lanz says. “It was a total highlight of the year for me, even though I couldn’t be with Kyle or any of my fellow medical students watching it. It was still one of the best memories I’ll have of medical school.”

For Dr. McCormick, the virtual Super Night was the perfect prelude to Match Day. “Jenna is one of my best friends, and we have known each other since first year. We’ve been through a lot of chaos. For me, it was one of the happier things to be able to do this video with her. It was super fun.” — Danny McAlindon