They persevered through two years of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Now more than 225 members of the Class of 2022 of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston will come together Friday, March 18, to celebrate Match Day, the day they learn where they will take their next step in their medical careers.
For the first time in two years, fourth-year students will gather in Webber Plaza to open envelopes in an event that is timed across the country. Coordinated by the National Residency Matching Program, students are matched with residency training programs throughout the U.S.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the number of family and loved ones allowed at the in-person event will be limited per student but a livestream starting at 10:30 a.m. Friday will be available on UTHealth Houston social media platforms and at https://go.uth.edu/MatchDay2022.
A short ceremony will be followed by the reading of students’ names, and the opening of envelopes after a countdown at 11 a.m. CDT.
Here are some of the faces of the Class of 2022 at McGovern Medical School:
Kendall Coleman and Kyle Black
As a child growing up with severe eczema on her face, Kendall Coleman, 26, knew from age 6 that she wanted to become a “skin doctor.” Raised by a single mother who moved from Detroit to the Dallas/Fort Worth area to give Kendall the best shot at a good education, she is now poised to become that doctor. Her secret weapon to getting a residency in dermatology, one of the most competitive fields, is her family, which now includes her fiancé, fellow McGovern Medical School senior Kyle Black, 26, along with her mother and the stepdad who is her father in every way that counts. In one of those incredible twists of life, her father, anesthesiologist Valentine Gibson, MD, is a patient of Kyle’s mother, Jennifer Edwards, MD, an internal medicine physician and alumnus of McGovern Medical School. Before their children even met, Edwards sent her son a photo of Kendall and Gibson sent one of Kyle to his daughter. Kyle and Kendall didn’t recognize each other from the photos at orientation but put it together at the first-year-students retreat and they’ve been together even since. “Kyle has been so supportive. I can’t imagine a more supportive partner,” Kendall said.
Kendall, who will be hooded by her father at commencement, credits her mother, Diane Gibson, RN, with giving her the education and tools to go beyond the barriers that her mom had. “Because of her situation as a single mother, she had limitations and never wanted me to have those limitations. My success is a mirror of her values,” she said. Kendall graduated from Grapevine High School and The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in human development. Her desire to be a dermatologist never wavered. “I want to be a dermatologist who also focuses on the psychological impact of the disease. What you look like is what everyone sees. How you view your appearance affects how you interact with others,” she said.
Kyle grew up in Dallas and graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School before attending the University of Georgia on a scholarship. He took a gap year that included traveling to Asia for three months before applying to medical schools. He was accepted to McGovern Medical School, the alma mater of his mother, who will hood him at commencement. His father, Christopher Black, MD, is an emergency medicine physician. Kyle is choosing to follow in his mother’s steps and become an internal medicine physician with cardiology likely in his future. “I think internal medicine physicians have a special place leading patient care and helping patients make important decisions about their health,” he said. “You see everything, so it keeps things interesting.” His mom showed him the kind of “deep and meaningful” relationships that internal medicine physicians establish with their patients, Kyle said. Gus Krucke, MD, HIV/AIDS specialist and associate professor of internal medicine at McGovern Medical School, showed him how to have a meaningful career. “I did a rotation and projects with him at Omega House hospice, where I learned about end-of-life care and gained a very realistic view of being a physician,” he said.
Kyle and Kendall will marry May 28. “Wherever we end up, as long as we are together, we can accomplish our career goals,” Kyle said. “I am so excited. I am really looking forward to the next phase of our life together. It’s like an adventure,” Kendall said.
As a Black first-generation American and first-generation college student, Eliora Tesfaye, 24, was inspired to go to medical school after her family, who arrived with very little from Ethiopia, experienced serious illnesses. As a teenager growing up in Arlington, Texas, Eliora recalled noticing the lack of diversity in medical providers when her family members fell ill, and she quickly realized the need for minority representation in medicine. “I believe it is important for people who look like me to see diversity in their medical caregivers from primary to specialty care,” she said. Eliora attended UT Austin, where she was selected for the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), designed to assist students of low socioeconomic status to pursue a career in medicine. “I wouldn’t have had the experiential and financial support without that program. JAMP is a huge part of my life,” she said. Because of her family’s experience with illness, specifically breast cancer, Eliora is looking to matching into a plastic surgery residency, where she will build on her interests in breast reconstruction and microsurgery. “It’s a very competitive specialty to match into, and because only 3% of plastic surgery residents are Black and only 0.8% of attending plastic surgeons are Black women, it would be monumental for someone like me to successfully become a plastic surgeon,” she said. Eliora was a 2021 recipient of the Conquer Cancer’s Medical Student Rotation for Underrepresented Populations, and serves as an ambassador and mentor for current JAMP students.
Reflecting on her journey and holding back tears, Andrea Hernandez, 26, tells the story of how a cousin recently found an old notebook where she was playing doctor as a child and writing pretend prescriptions to family members. She always knew she wanted to be a doctor, but as a first-generation college student, she didn’t think it was possible. Now, she is looking forward to Friday, when she is hoping to start a career as an anesthesiologist and finally see all of her hard work pay off. “As the oldest in a first-generation Mexican-American family I sometimes felt like I was a silent leader, but I also play an important part in being a role model to my siblings and I feel like that relates to the role of an anesthesiologist. They are silent team players, but they are important players in the surgical room,” Andrea said. Prior to applying for medical school, she was in a major car accident where she was left with temporary amnesia that almost derailed her dreams. But Andrea worked hard and through the support of her family and husband, she overcame that obstacle and was accepted to McGovern Medical School. During her time at McGovern, Andrea was involved in the Latino medical school association where she became the co-director for the Southwest region and participated in events and outreach. “Being a minority in medicine was very difficult for me. I didn’t see myself in our leaders in the Texas Medical Center and I sought out to see where I would fit in,” she said. Andrea gives credit to her family and friends who have supported her along the way, and to her mentor Yolanda Bell, director of academic advising at McGovern Medical School, for helping her find opportunities, and for being someone she could lean on for advice. “I wanted to make sure I left my mark here at McGovern and I really feel like I did my job,” Andrea said. “I’m excited and I’m ready for my next journey.”
Wylie Moody, and Kelly and Sam Erickson
Twin sisters Wylie Moody and Kelly Erickson, both 27, have always been on the same path. Despite having no family in the medical field, Wylie and Kelly jointly decided, from the time they played “doctor” and watched medical shows with their grandfather as young children, that they would pursue medicine, borne out of their shared love of helping people. After studying biology at UT Austin and taking a gap year, the sisters hoped to attend the same medical school. “Medical school was always the next step,” Wylie said. “It was never really a question for either of us.” Within an hour of each other, both matched to McGovern Medical School. “We were both really nervous for that whole hour,” Kelly remembered. “It was such a relief when we matched to the same school.” While grateful to be together, they decided to pursue training in two different specialties: Wylie in dermatology, and Kelly in pediatrics. But they quickly got back into the same groove when, just one semester into medical school, they each met their future husbands.
Kelly saw Sam Erickson, 26, for the first time at orientation. As the son of a small-town ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon, Sam, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Texas A&M University, had chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps after witnessing firsthand the strong, positive impact a medical professional could have on his community. “In a smaller town, you get to know all your patients and help everyone out,” said Sam, who is from Paris, Texas, and attended medical school on a partial NCAA student athlete postgraduate scholarship. “ENT offers a good mix of surgery and medicine, and you’re really diversified in what you can do for your patients.” He and Kelly bonded over their mutual faith, passion for running, and love of the outdoors, especially water. The two dated for a couple of years before Sam proposed by the water — on the pier of a yacht club on Galveston Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic. They married in April 2021.
Just the month before, in March 2021, Wylie married Derek Lee Moody, a resident in the orthopedic surgery residency training program at McGovern Medical School. Derek also proposed to Wylie on the water — on a sailboat during a trip to Hawaii before the pandemic. In a seemingly full-circle twist of fate, the couple welcomed twin daughters, Avery and Charlie, in January.
Mentors were important to Wylie, Kelly, and Sam during their medical school experience. Wylie credits dermatologists Anisha B. Patel, MD, and Ronald P. Rapini, MD, with solidifying her interest in the field. Kelly gives kudos to pediatrician Emma A. Omoruyi, MD, MPH, and pediatric neurologist Pedro Mancias, MD, who emphasized good patient care. Sam appreciates the research he was able to publish, as well as the guidance he received from ENT surgeon Soham Roy, MD. Despite their different professional interests, Wylie, Kelly, and Sam are all hoping to match to residency programs in the same city. Their lives are deeply intertwined — and they hope it stays that way.
Rachel Obimah, 26, was inspired to attend medical school in college, which led her to apply to the Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP). JAMP is a state-funded program that offers financial and experiential support to qualified and economically disadvantaged Texas residents. Through the program, she completed an internship at McGovern Medical School, where she knew she would be happy training. “Because JAMP afforded me an alternative route to medical school than my classmates, I especially experienced imposter syndrome during my first year of medical school,” Rachel said. But during her time at McGovern Medical School, Rachel became involved in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), where she used her personal experiences and developed an annual imposter syndrome workshop for first-year medical students.
“When I attended an AAMC conference, I learned more about imposter syndrome and walked away with tools to have a better mindset, be a better student, and a more confident future physician. It felt rewarding to bring this topic to McGovern students and work through some of the mental challenges we were facing,” Rachel said.
Because of her interest in understanding how nutrition affects a person’s health mentally and physically, she is seeking a gastroenterology fellowship after completing an internal medicine residency. She credits Nahid Rianon, MD, associate professor of family medicine, with helping her understand quality improvement in health care; Cristina Murdock, MD, assistant professor of geriatrics, for encouraging her to take a holistic approach to patient care; and Jennifer Swails, MD, program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, for propelling her interest in medical education.
“My hope for beyond residency and throughout my career is building diversity in health care and having doctors in the community that look like me,” she said. “I will always be interested in serving populations with lower access to care, or those who are underserved. Wherever I go, I hope to eventually come back to serve in Houston. This community helped build me up, and I plan to pay it forward.”