NYMC Alums Share Marriage, Memories, and a Lifetime Together
Six Alumni Couples Share How They Left NYMC with a Degree and a Lifelong Partner
New York Medical College (NYMC) alumni found more than a degree at the College, they found love. The hallways witnessed not only the rigorous pursuit of medical knowledge but also the blossoming of enduring relationships. The couples of NYMC share how they met their spouses during their studies.
Arthur Topilow, M.D. '67, FACP, and Judith Fiedler Topilow, M.D. '67, FAAP, Married 56 years
Arthur Topilow, M.D. ‘67, FACP, knew who Judith Fiedler Topilow, M.D. ‘67, FAAP, was by their second year. However, during her first year, she knew that another first-year medical student played the piano during lunchtime in the medical school auditorium. They got together when they both joined the same study group in their third year. They had clinical rotations and scheduled lectures together. They married during their internships. They have two happily married sons, Justin and Evan Topilow, and four grandchildren—each with their own personalities and interests.
Dr. Arthur Topilow is now retired from the successful clinical practice of hematology and medical oncology. He continues to work with pre-medical students and has his own clinical research program all at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey. He also has a lifelong musical career in classical and jazz piano, performing to large and small audiences to this day. Dr. Judith Topilow directed a Muscular Dystrophy Association sponsored clinic in Monmouth County, New Jersey for about 25 years, in addition to her private pediatric practice where she specialized in children’s developmental problems.
Advice for couples: “Many activities – be they joyous, cultural, fun, or sad – should be shared together. However, it is equally important at times for each couple to act as individuals.”
Sara Mittelmann Handwerker, M.D. '73, and David Handwerker, M.D. '73, Married 53 years
“We were in the same home room class at the Bronx High School of Science (Class of 1965) for three years but didn’t really know each other. However, at orientation in the NYMC auditorium in Manhattan, we recognized each other and started chatting. About a month after we met, we went on our first date. Our dates consisted of going to a movie theater in the Bronx after eating at a great pizza parlor near the theater. Much of our love of each other is related to having similar interests and compatibility. Our favorite memories together are of having and raising our children (No, David did not deliver them!).”
After NYMC, David Handwerker, M.D. ‘73, went into private practice, worked as a staff member at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and became the associate director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the hospital. Sara Mittelmann Handwerker, M.D. ’73, practiced and conducted research in her specialty, maternal fetal medicine. She worked at various New York City hospitals, including Downstate Hospital, Booth Memorial Hospital (later called NewYork-Presbyterian Queens), and Elmhurst Hospital. She became an associate professor at New York University while working at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and was an assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, while working at Elmhurst Hospital. She also wrote several articles over the years.
Advice for couples: “Sara’s mother’s grandmother used to tell the family in Europe and then Sara’s mother told us: ‘Never go to bed angry.’ Also, our personal advice is to always make some time to have some fun with your spouse and family, no matter how hard you work as a doctor.”
John Cosgrove, M.D. '83, and Patricia Barry, M.D. '83, Married 40 years
“We met the first week in med school in 1979. Our first date was a Harvard-Army football game at West Point. I made Patty tacos for our tailgate. My favorite memory is our third-year clerkship in medicine in 1981 at Lenox Hill where John O’Grady, M.D., the clerkship director encouraged us to be a couple! We have three great children and two grandsons. Our daughter, Susan Cosgrove, M.D. ’12, is an AOA graduate of NYMC and an obstetrics anesthesiologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. John Cosgrove, Jr., is a successful venture capitalist in Southampton, New York, and Patrick is a gifted young man who we are blessed to have live with us.”
Patricia Barry, M.D. ‘83, is a well-known breast imaging radiologist in Long Island who just retired and has established a reputation as an artist of oil paintings.John Cosgrove, M.D. ’83, is the former chair of surgery at Northwell Health/Glen Cove Hospital and continues to practice medicine.
Advice for couples: “Be true to yourselves and always embrace your children.”
David R. Brenin, M.D. '90, and Christiana M. Brenin, M.D. '90, Married 33 years
Playing quarters at Michael’s Pub in Tarrytown, New York, during medical school orientation was the beginning of this love story. David R. Brenin, M.D. ‘90, and Christiana M. Brenin, M.D. '90, have been together ever since. They jump-started their journey with a magical five-week trip to Greece after Match Day, riding on Vespas and touring the Greek islands. Under a beautiful sunset on the holy island of Patmos, David popped the question...and she said YES!
Having matched at Northwestern Medical Center, they moved to Chicago where they pursued their residencies and went on to have two beautiful daughters. One is graduating from NYMC herself this year and matched in urology at the University of Colorado. Their other daughter graduated from Tufts University with a double master’s in food and nutrition policy as well as in urban and environmental planning and went on to become a food systems planner for the city of Boston.
During their careers, The Brenins established and expanded a successful breast care program at the University of Virginia, now an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Christiana is a medical oncologist and David is a breast surgeon.
Advice for couples: “Just do it! And couples’ match is easier than it seems and will likely go better than you think. Take time off and go on a long and well-deserved vacation between Match Day and graduation. You will never find so much time off again.”
Hee-Joo Cheon Schingo, M.D. '92, and Victor Schingo, M.D. '92, Married 31 years
Hee-Joo Cheon Schingo, M.D. ’92, and Victor Schingo, M.D. ’92, met when they were both moving into Vosburgh Pavilion the week before starting medical school. Victor’s father, who talked to everyone, asked Hee-Joo if she knew where there was a bank and grocery store. Victor and Hee-Joo became friends and soon developed a romantic relationship with each other. They wed right before graduation and have two children.
Dr. Victor Schingo is an owner of a two-person private plastic surgery practice in Latham, New York, and has recently been inducted into the Rhinoplasty Society. Dr. Hee-Joo Cheon Schingo has taken over her father’s obstetrics and gynecology practice in Niskayuna, New York, and is the managing partner of a six-person physician practice, Carenet Medical Group, one of the largest private groups in the Capital District
Advice for couples: “Communication is the key. Openly discuss feelings, needs, and expectations. The secret to our long marriage is a mutual understanding and respect for the hard work, long hours, and personal sacrifice required to become a successful physician.”
Maja Lundborg Gray, M.D. '95, and Daniel Gray, M.D. '91, Married 30 years
In 1991, Daniel Gray, M.D. '91, was in his fourth year of medical school and Maja Lundborg Gray, M.D. '95, was a graduate student at NYMC, applying to the medical school. They met at a Valentine's Day party with a hot tub hosted by mutual friends and when Dr. Maja Gray was leaving, he ran out of the hot tub across the snowy yard in the zero-degree weather to get her phone number. They now have two sons, Spencer, who is pursuing medicine, and Maxwell, a junior economics major.
Dr. Maja Gray has been an emergency physician at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, New York, since 1998 and serves as medical director of the Emergency Department, and president of her practice. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her service to the hospital and community in the past year. Dr. Daniel Gray has been a radiologist at Samaritan since 1997, serving as chair of the Radiology Department and various roles in his practice, including president. He has left hospital-based practice and now works from home as a teleradiologist.
Advice for couples: “Always make time for connecting with your significant other regularly, despite work and career demands, kids, and other obligations.”