The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine will hold its annual graduation ceremony on Friday, May 22, at 6 p.m., at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton. The graduating class includes 95 medical students.
The event can be viewed through live streaming at http://vp.telvue.com/. Coverage of live events begins about 15 minutes prior to the event start time.
Each student’s medical journey is unique. Here are just a few of their stories.
Cody Adkinson has dreamed of becoming a missionary doctor. He is one step closer as he begins his internal medicine residency at the University of Miami/Palm Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he will work part of the time in a Spanish-speaking clinic.
Augustine Hong wants to use his skills to provide health care to people at home and abroad. He will take the next step on his medical journey at Case Western/Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland, where he will begin his residency in internal medicine.
Audra Horomanski is looking forward to learning from world-renowned physicians at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, Calif., when she begins her residency in internal medicine this summer.
Zach Il’Giovine will take what he has learned about patient safety and quality improvement with him as he begins a residency this summer in internal medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Topaz Sampson might be the next leader in the treatment of mental illness. The 2014-2015 national president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) will work toward helping remove the burden of mental illness as she pursues her residency in psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Ralla Shrit will continue to lead and serve in her community as she begins the next step on her medical journey as a resident in surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. Shrit organized and participated in several events at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, including the canned food drive, organ week, blood drive and Day of Caring pancake brunch.
More details about each of these graduating medical students are included in the stories below.
Working toward becoming a missionary doctor
When Cody Adkinson was a freshman in college, he knew he wanted to become a missionary doctor. Inspired to follow his dream, he majored in Spanish and biology at the University of Mount Union.
“I felt that was the direction I was being led,” he said. “I would like to become a full-time missionary after residency, but I will need to work in the United States for a few years to pay off my loans.”
While a medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Adkinson volunteered with Catholic Social Services, serving the Colombian refugee community in Dayton. Adkinson, who spent a semester in Costa Rica, recalled the friendliness of the Costa Rican people.
“People were very friendly and helpful,” said Adkinson, who is from Bellevue, Ohio, a small farming and manufacturing town in Northwest Ohio. “I wanted to be like that for people coming to America.”
The Colombian refugees became his family away from home. As an interpreter, he helped with many things, including mail, doctor’s appointments, job applications and housing. He took the younger children and teenagers swimming and played soccer with them. He also took them to Young’s Jersey Dairy and trick-or-treating at Halloween.
“I wanted to be a good influence on the Colombian teenagers and younger kids,” said Adkinson, who was inducted into the medical school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society in 2014. “They are adjusting to school and life here, and they are caught between the expectations of two different cultures.”
He also helped coach wrestling at Beavercreek High School as a volunteer and was very active in his church, Fuentes de Agua Viva, a bilingual church in Dayton. In addition, he volunteered at Reach Out of Montgomery County, a health care facility that provides free medical services for the uninsured and underserved.
At the Boonshoft School of Medicine, he participated in the Global Health Initiative and International Health Program. He served with the Salvadoran Association of Rural Health in El Salvador. He recently returned from an elective in Myanmar, where he learned alongside a mobile clinic team of American physicians.
In July, he will begin his internal medicine residency at the University of Miami/Palm Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he will work part of the time in a Spanish-speaking clinic.
Providing care at home and abroad
When Augustine Hong was a master’s student studying global medicine at the University of Southern California, he went to Uganda.
He volunteered at a nongovernmental organization and worked in a mobile clinic. While working in the makeshift pharmacy in a village that was more than 80 percent HIV-positive, he passed out vitamins and antihelmintics, medicine used to destroy parasitic worms. He was overcome by the gratitude of the villagers.
“I remember the jaja, or the grandmother leader of the village, shaking my hand. Her distinct look of gratitude touched me,” said Hong, who is from Toledo. “Through this trip, I realized that being part of a team and working to provide health care is something I wanted to pursue.”
While at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Hong served as class president for three years. In addition, he was vice president of the American Medical Student Association and co-president of the Global Health Initiative. He was a member of Phi Rho Sigma Medical Honor Society and the American Medical Association. He also served as class academic representative and vice president of the Medical School Student Council.
He volunteered with Reach Out of Montgomery County and participated in an Area Health Education Center summer internship. He recently returned from a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he participated in a mobile clinic, worked in a hospital and worked with diabetic patients.
In the summer, he will begin a residency in internal medicine at Case Western/Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland. After his residency, he is considering pursuing some type of fellowship. He would like to apply his training to help provide care to people in developing countries.
“I saw the variety of roles that physicians fill and decided that internal medicine was a good fit for me,” he said. “I love the interactions with patients and being able to attempt to provide some kind of calm in the storm of a hospital stay.”
Making a difference in the lives of the underserved
As Audra Horomanski graduates from the Boonshoft School of Medicine, she is counting down the days until she can start her internal medicine residency this summer at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, Calif.
“The best part about being at Stanford Hospital will be learning from world-renowned physicians and seeing patients with rare diseases,” said Horomanski, who grew up in Hudson, Ohio. “I also am looking forward to working at the San Jose County Hospital and the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs, which will provide me with experience working with a variety of patients.”
Horomanski is interested in exploring the various specialties in internal medicine.
“I really loved my rheumatology rotation this year, but hematology/oncology is very interesting,” said Horomanski, who earned her undergraduate degrees in biology and Spanish at Case Western Reserve University. “Luckily, I have a few years of trying different things to decide.”
During her time at medical school, Horomanski was involved in Phi Rho Sigma Medical Society, a service organization, the Boonshoft chapter of the American Medical Association and Finding Meaning in Medicine, a discussion group for physicians, nurses and health care professionals.
Horomanski and a fellow classmate, Udit Singhal, started a Student Interest Group in Oncology at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. They wanted to broaden the exposure medical students have to careers in oncology.
“Oncologists have a unique kind of practice with a special population of patients,” she said. “By starting the group, we wanted to have physicians talk to medical students about what they do.”
As she begins her residency at Stanford, Horomanski will miss her classmates, faculty and the noncompetitive atmosphere at the school.
“The amazing faculty of the Boonshoft School of Medicine foster a noncompetitive community that helps us all become the best possible physicians,” Horomanski said. “I love that I trained with people who haven’t forgotten the humanity in medicine.”
Promoting patient safety and quality improvement in health care
Zach Il’Giovine considers coming to the Boonshoft School of Medicine one of the best decisions of his life. The people at the medical school made a lasting impression on him.
“There is something about this place that is different,” said Il’Giovine, who is from Concord, Ohio. “There is some quality in the student the school attracts and accepts that is hard to objectively measure.”
Il’Giovine found Boonshoft School of Medicine students to be concerned for one another. In addition, alumni reached out to him and his friends to see if there was any help or advice they could provide during the residency match process.
“You just don’t have that at other medical schools,” said Il’Giovine, who married his wife, Clare, just before graduation. “We have developed a network of Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine graduates across the country who are looking out for each other.”
Il’Giovine will begin his residency this summer in internal medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. He is looking forward to meeting and learning from doctors and other residents, who are some of the best in their fields. He believes that residency training shapes the type of physician a person develops into.
“I think that influence lies within those you learn from and surround yourself with,” said Il’Giovine, who would like to continue his medical education with a fellowship in cardiology. “I couldn’t imagine a better environment.”
While at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Il’Giovine was elected as a class representative to the Medical School Student Council for four years. He volunteered with Reach Out of Montgomery County. He also participated in Student to Student, a community education program run by the medical students. He participated in volunteer trips to New Orleans and India. He was inducted into the medical school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.
He was a member of the Boonshoft for Healthcare Improvement group, a student-run multidisciplinary organization that educates students about patient safety and quality improvement.
“In the course of a day, physicians can help those patients that they see in clinic or in the hospital, but it is typically limited to those they directly interact with,” said Il’Giovine, who served as the group’s president in 2013-2014. “Quality improvement provides the opportunity to develop and improve entire health care systems, extending the reach of benefit not only to the patients we directly interact with, but to other patients as well.”
Committed to removing the burden of mental illness
Topaz Sampson entered medical school convinced that she wanted to become a physician in emergency medicine. She even sat in the front row of every Emergency Medicine Interest Group meeting.
All that changed during a psychiatry rotation at the Dayton VA Medical Center she did as part of her medical school education. She helped treat a patient with borderline personality disorder. Through treatment, the man was able to transform his life and rebuild relationships with family members, including his daughter.
“This patient’s transformation made me fall in love with psychiatry,” said Sampson, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College. “Once I got a taste of the burden of mental illness and how rewarding it was to help remove the burden, I was hooked.”
Sampson is heading to Houston this summer to pursue a residency in psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine. She wants to learn all she can about the growing field of emergency psychiatry.
Baylor’s psychiatry program had what she was looking for — the combination of community outreach and clinics that serve the LGBT and maternity populations in an underserved area. She is looking forward to participating in a resident-run outreach program, where she will speak about mental illness at community schools.
A community leader and advocate for underserved groups, Sampson served as president of the first-year class council during medical school. She also was a medical school student blogger and a volunteer at Reach Out of Montgomery County, a local health clinic for the underserved and underinsured. She participated in a service learning student-initiated experience in Guyana, working at an HIV care and treatment program.
On a national level, she served as the national president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organization focused on the needs of underrepresented minority medical and pre-medical students.
“I could not have participated as SNMA national president if I had not had the support of the faculty and staff at the Boonshoft School of Medicine,” said Sampson, who was born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. “They always encouraged and supported me.”
A leader in medical school and the community
While at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Ralla Shrit could be found leading and organizing various events to benefit the Greater Dayton community.
As president of Phi Rho Sigma Medical Society, a service organization, she organized and participated in several events, including the canned food drive, organ week, blood drive and Day of Caring pancake brunch. She participated in Radio Rounds, the nation’s first medical talk show created and hosted entirely by medical students. She volunteered at Camp Restore in New Orleans, helping to repair and rebuild schools, parks and homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. She was involved in the Medical Student Research Club and volunteered at Reach Out of Montgomery County.
She also was a member of the Boonshoft School of Medicine chapters of the American Medical Association, the American Medical Women’s Association and the American College of Surgeons. She also participated in Student to Student, a community education program run by the medical students.
Within the Dayton community, Shrit served as an executive board member of the Dayton Arab American Forum, a community culture group. She was a teaching assistant in the Interactive Journey Immersion in Medicine for high schools students at Miami Valley School. She volunteered with A Kid Again, an organization that fosters hope, happiness and healing for families raising kids with life-threatening illnesses. She also was an interviewer with the Alumni Schools Committee of the University of Chicago, where she earned her undergraduate degree.
Community activism has always been important to Shrit and her family.
“Growing up in a liberal Muslim household in Southwest Ohio was neither easy nor simple,” said Shrit, who is from Centerville. “My family was never truly welcome in a mosque, yet we did not belong in a church either.”
When she and her brother asked their parents what their family did on Sundays while all of their friends were in church, her parents came up with a solution. The family volunteered.
“So we found our spirituality and lessons in humility in community work,” said Shrit, who will begin a residency in surgery this summer at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. “Even in the medical profession, it becomes even more critical to reconnect with your community outside of a hospital. Physicians have a unique leadership role in a hospital, but we have to earn that role in the community.”