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School of Medicine Class of 2020 Celebrates Match Day Virtually

More than 200 members of the School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2020 marked a major milestone on March 20

March 23, 2020
Virtual Match Day Katherine Harwood Headshot
Virtual Match Day 2020

“I am taking my talents back home to Florida! I am going to be a surgeon,” tweeted Alessandra Cabrera, who matched at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

“Very excited to be spending the next five years of my training at Morristown Memorial Hospital!” tweeted Emily Convery, who matched in radiology.

With the top career choices for the Class of 2020 in internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, anesthesiology, general surgery, family medicine, radiology, orthopedics and obstetrics and gynecology,  SOM students will be training at 104 different institutions in 24 states across the U.S and in Canada, with nearly half pursuing a career in primary care.

Jane M. Ponterio, M.D. ’81, senior associate dean for student affairs, opened the virtual event shortly before noon, as New York Medical College (NYMC) School of Medicine joined accredited medical schools across the country in the largest match of applicants and positions in history with more than 40,000 applicants in the National Residency Match Program.  

“Even though this is a real change from how we have traditionally celebrated this day here at New York Medical College, it doesn't change the way we feel about all of our students,” said Dr. Ponterio. “We are so proud of you all. We are proud of how you have performed academically, how you have performed clinically and are now even more proud today seeing how you have all stepped up in your own ways to help in this time of crisis.”

“This day is the one that brings you closest to establishing your professional presence—in our minds, however, you have already done this, “ said Jennifer Koestler, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education. “I have never seen a community band so closely together as I have seen over these last few weeks—you have all stepped up to volunteer for our community, to share small acts of kindness to help maintain a sense of togetherness during unpredictable times—these are exactly the core qualities that we would expect of New York Medical College medical students. We all share in your individual and collective successes and know that New York Medical College is already a better place because of you.”

As the moment to learn of their match was just seconds away, SOM Dean Jerry Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, added his congratulations to the students, along with some heartfelt advice, “One thing you cannot learn in books or online is humanism and compassion that makes you a true healer,” he said, before closing with a quote from the Diary of Anne Frank. “Our lives are fashioned by our choices. First we make our choices. Then our choices make us.”  

And though the moment of students learning of their matches were done in private, rather than among a large group of their peers with family and friends there to celebrate, their reactions to learning of their match were no less joyous.

“Although Match Day wasn't the day I had envisioned for myself years ago, I got to spend it with my family and closest friends (virtually), which meant the world to me. My brother printed out my letter and placed it in an envelope so that I'd have something to open and I am thrilled that I matched into my first choice at Mount Sinai Hospital in internal medicine,” said Justine Anderson. “New York Medical College has allowed me to grow as a leader and a professional. The relationships I've fostered here are ones that I will bring with me through the rest of my career. I owe so much to this community which has helped shaped me into the doctor I am becoming.”

"I am so excited that I matched to my first choice at Northwell Health/Southside Hospital in ob/gyn!” shared Precious Okunbar. ”I can’t fully express how amazing it feels to have gotten to this point, in what has felt like a lifelong pursuit of a career in medicine. I have nothing but gratitude for New York Medical College School of Medicine faculty for opening their doors to me, and providing me with the opportunity to pursue my dreams in an environment where I was supported, nurtured and where it was clear that everyone was invested in my success. I am so grateful to God, for carrying me through the journey that is medical school, for I could not have done this without my faith, family, friends and without an environment that allowed me to thrive.”

“I am extremely excited about starting in July at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland,” said Matthew McIntyre who earned a coveted residency in neurology. “The process of applying to neurosurgery is grueling and takeslots of preparation. From performing meaningful research, investing time in neurosurgery electives and away rotations, to traveling around the country to interview, it takes a village to successfully match. I really want to thank my friends, family and mentors, especially Dr. Christian Bowers [M.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery], for their support throughout this process. It really would not be possible to do it without them.”

"Today at noon my partner and I learned that we have matched together at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center's internal medicine program,” said Kenneth Guber. “The shock of realizing a dream that has been a lifelong educational journey was beyond imaginable. We were aghast with a sense of creating the impossible -- could this really be? However, slowly but surely this emotion morphed into a profound sense of gratitude to all those individuals who have allowed us to achieve our dream. Congratulations to all. I look forward to working with, and learning from, you as we bind together to promote health and well-being in our world."

“I matched at NYP/Columbia in pediatrics. I couldn’t be happier, and I am so relieved to be staying close to family and friends,” said Katherine Harwood. “Though I wish we could have celebrated with the whole Class of 2020 in person, I picked one close classmate who lives nearby, and the two of us had a mini match party. Much to our surprise, when we opened our emails, we both matched to Columbia. What are the odds? It was fantastic to be lifted from the fog of the COVID-19 pandemic today and have something real to celebrate. Cheers to a bright future.”

School of Medicine Class of 2020 Virtual Match Day