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Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award

October 17, 2018
by Carrie Flynn

The Yale School of Medicine will bestow the Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award on a graduating medical student or students at the annual Power Day (to be held this year on November 30th).

About the award

In 2013, Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman, both from Queens, NY, started medical school at Yale. Personally committed to using medicine as a means to alleviate social oppression manifesting as illness, they quickly realized that the social and structural factors that are the most important determinants of health were nearly absent from the curriculum. Furthermore, they saw that Yale’s focus on global health failed to provide sufficient attention to the piece of the globe closest to our campus, New Haven. Robert and Tehreem felt that these missing components of their education were too critical to ignore and, embracing the core values of the Yale System, decided to teach themselves and their peers. They spent two years developing a student-run course, the US Health Justice elective, initially with no institutional support. After two successful years of the course, the US Health Justice Collaborative was added as a trans-disciplinary initiative to foster community, education, and informed action. The US Health Justice Course and Collaborative were honored in 2018 by the Elm-Ivy Award. In addition to the Course and Collaborative, they took part in a number of other initiatives, consistently speaking truth to power and risking professional advancement in service of disenfranchised and oppressed groups. Most importantly, they created a close, connected community for underrepresented and marginalized students, helping create a platform for initiating structural reform in a profession and an institution that was not created for them. Their efforts permanently changed the curriculum, culture, and values of YSM. This award was created to honor their legacy, push their vision forward, prevent the pendulum from swinging backward, and inspire other students to continue to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award recipients will demonstrate one or more of these traits/actions:

  • Challenged YSM and/or the profession of medicine to change/benefit marginalized or oppressed groups
  • Actively catalyzed and participated in change
  • Created a home and defined community for people at the school
  • Demonstrated horizontal leadership and collaborative work
  • Engaged in peer mentorship
  • Left a lasting legacy
  • Demonstrated humility, selflessness, and service
  • Focused work on New Haven or the United States
  • Reached outside of Yale to form partnerships
  • May have incited ill will or animus, weathered opposition, took on controversial or unpopular views, or risked professional advancement to further a cause
  • Didn't have to "succeed" in their activism

The Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award committee will consist of faculty, staff, student representatives from the Medical Student Council; Program for Humanities in Medicine; Health, History, and Humanities group (HHH); US Health Justice Course and Collaborative (USHJ); SNMA/LMSA; OutPatient; Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (CDISJ); Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement, and Equity (DICE); and Dwight Hall.

Apply for the Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award

To be considered for the Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award, interested graduating students must complete the form (must sign into OrgSync) that will include an account of their work and experiences during their time on campus.

Nominate a student for the Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award

All Yale School of Medicine affiliated faculty members, students, staff members, administrators, and alumni are encouraged to nominate outstanding medical students graduating this year (2019). The 2018 process is now open and will close October 31st, 2018 at 11:59pm.

Questions about the Robert Rock and Tehreem Rehman Student Activism Award can be directed to

Submitted by Abigail Roth on October 17, 2018