They persevered through two years of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Now, more than half of the 228 students who matched from the Class of 2022 of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston will stay in Texas for their residencies, fulfulling one of the missions of a state university.
Nearly half, 45%, of the fourth-year class matched to primary care specialties, where a physician shortage is most keenly felt across the country.
After two years of virtual ceremonies, this class was able to celebrate Match Day together. Match Day is coordinated by the National Residency Matching Program, with students matched to residency training programs across the country.
“We are really excited that 62% of our students will stay in Texas. One of our missions as a state university is to train physicians for the diverse State of Texas,” said LaTanya Love, MD, dean of education ad interim at McGovern Medical School and executive vice president of student affairs and diversity at UTHealth Houston. “This is a very resilient class that spent their last two years in a pandemic. We are also very excited that 28% matched to McGovern Medical School. For those who matched to programs in other states, we always tell them that we will loan you to them for a few years but really hope you come back to practice in Texas.” The percentage of students matching to Texas residencies this year is the highest since 2006.
Here are a few of the students who matched from the Class of 2022:
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 them from Detroit to the Dallas/Fort Worth area to give Kendall the best shot at a good education, she is now poised on the brink of becoming 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 student 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 alumna 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 student retreat and they’ve been together even since.
Kendall, who will be hooded by her father at commencement on Friday, May 13, 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 chose 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, who will marry May 28, were thrilled to match to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “This is perfect for us,” said Kyle, who was about two seconds behind his fiancée in tearing open his envelope. “I have been nervous for the last three years about matching in dermatology because it’s so competitive,” Kendall said. “I am so excited. I am really looking forward to the next phase of our life together. It’s like an adventure.”
As a Black first-generation American and first-generation student, Eliora Tesfaye, 24, was inspired to go to medical school as a teenager growing up in Arlington after her family, arriving with very little from Ethiopia, experienced serious illnesses. 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 The University of Texas at 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 was looking to match into a plastic surgery residency, where she could 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.
She joined that select group on Match Day, earning a residency at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in plastic surgery. “I am so relieved and happy. It feels good being a part of history and knowing I am now in the less than 1% percent of Black female plastic surgeons. At the end of the day, I just wanted to practice plastic surgery, so knowing that’s certain now feels amazing.”
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 will be launching a career as an anesthesiologist, and will be able to 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 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 the school, Andrea was involved in the Latino Medical Student 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 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.” Andrea will continue to make her mark at McGovern Medical School, where she matched. “I am so happy! This is a dream come true, this was my No. 1 choice and I’m just so happy to be staying in Houston,” she said.
Wylie Moody, and Kelly and Sam Erickson
Twin sisters Wylie Moody and Kelly Erickson, age 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 The University of Texas at 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 were accepted 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 postgrad 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.
Kelly and Sam matched to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center – Kelly in pediatrics and Sam in otolaryngology. “We are both very excited to go to Oklahoma! The pediatric program is wonderful, and Sam really loved the ENT program, too,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a great adventure!”
“My dad actually did his residency here too, so that’s really cool,” Sam said. “I’m excited. Kelly loved the pediatric program, and OU sounds awesome!”
Wylie matched to the University of Houston/HCA Houston Healthcare for her internship year and then to McGovern Medical School for her dermatology residency. “I feel so relieved! With two new babies at home and my husband in residency here, moving was not a viable option. I only applied to Houston and Galveston, so I’m glad it worked out! We couldn’t be more excited. I am very blessed to have this opportunity,” Wylie said.
Rachel Obimah, 26, was inspired in college to attend medical school, 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 will seek a gastroenterology fellowship after completing an internal medicine residency. She credits Nahid Rianon, MD, associate professor of family medicine with McGovern Medical School, 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 who 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.”
Rachel is headed to Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina for her residency in internal medicine. "It's like a dream come true," Rachel said. "I am so grateful for all the mentors and support that I had at UTHealth Houston, and I am overjoyed to train at my No. 1 choice for residency at Duke!"
For Elizabeth Herrin, 26, the letter revealing that she matched to a pediatric residency program at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas was like an invitation home. The journey leading to this Match Day moment began a decade ago when Elizabeth started volunteering at Children’s Medical Center Dallas as a way to cope with the loss of a friend to Ewing sarcoma. This same hospital is where she will train as a resident. “Every week, I volunteered one day a week, and it really gave me an appreciation for all that goes into health care,” Elizabeth said. “It’s hard to explain, but it felt like home. Anytime I was volunteering at the hospital, I loved it. It just felt like the right place for me.”
Much like the protagonist Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Elizabeth would not be underestimated. She set her sights on becoming a physician, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, landed a coveted spot in the Class of 2022 at McGovern Medical School, and served as president of the Pediatric Student Association during her second year. Marrying her love of medicine with her love of advocacy and social media, Elizabeth has chronicled her journey through medical school on her popular Instagram blog @Medically.Blonde. From studying for USMLE Step 1 to going through her first clinical rotation, she has invited people on Instagram to see what life as a medical student is like. In addition to posts about her first simulated neonatal intubation and advocating for safe gun storage, Elizabeth, a founding member of SAFE – Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic, has given her followers a glimpse of her life outside of medicine, mostly to reassure pre-med students that it is possible to become a doctor AND have a social life and even a love life. She marries her college sweetheart next month.
The blog, Elizabeth said, has given her opportunities to connect with people around the globe and, at times, serve as a mentor. It has also punctuated the importance of using social media responsibly to provide accurate health information and advocate for patients and public health issues. Now that she has found her home at UT Southwestern, Elizabeth plans to continue her @Medically.Blonde blog to show what life as a newly married medical resident looks like. As Elle Woods would say, “This is going to be just like senior year, except for funner!”
As Elizabeth would say, “I’m coming home! This was my top choice. It’s where I am supposed to be, and I’m so excited!”
2022 Graduating Class Specialty Choices
|Obstetrics & Gynecology||20||9%|
|Surgery - General||12||5%|