The 2010 entering students of the School of Medicine the Graduate School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are a diverse group, coming from across the commonwealth and around the world. But they share several important characteristics: They are intelligent, accomplished and committed to helping others. And they are excited to start a new adventure as Convocation ceremonies formally welcome them to the UMMS community.
GSBS welcome reception slideshow
SOM welcome picnic slideshow
On the 40th anniversary of accepting its first class, the SOM was more competitive than ever, with 125 students selected from 944 applicants from 82 cities and 14 counties in Massachusetts. The class comprises 69 women and 56 men; while the average age is 24, several are over age 30.
More prospective PhD candidates than ever were interested in the GSBS this year. Applications were up five percent over last year. Of the 90 members of the entering class, 43 are men and 47 are women. As evidence that its reputation for excellence has spread far beyond the commonwealth, the GSN welcomed its first international students this year. A total of 70 new students were admitted to the GSN’s four master’s and doctoral programs, including seven men. They range in age from early 20s to early 40s, and bring a wide range of educational backgrounds and professional achievements that will enrich the school’s learning environment.
Why are more and more of the best and brightest flocking to UMMS? Barnard alum and SOM entrant Katie Goble said UMMS was her first choice because it is an up-and-coming medical school that continues to grow. UMass Amherst graduate and SOM first-year student Kyle Rossi is especially pleased to be a member of the first class to experience all four years of the school’s new curriculum, one that weaves basic science and clinical practice together from the first year. “We’re a lucky group,” Rossi said. “We have access to faculty from different areas and access to second- and third-year medical students who have been through the clerkships.” Learn more about the new curriculum here.
Upon learning of the research opportunities with distinguished faculty available at the GSBS, the school was the only choice for Djade Soumana. One of this year’s cohort of impressive UMass alumni who chose to continue their education in the system, Soumana enrolled in the GSBS after a laboratory stint at Harvard University. Likewise, after in-depth research into various programs, the GSBS was classmate Ruth Villanueva’s top choice. “When I asked my neuroscience friends, colleagues and mentors their personal and professional opinion, everyone spoke highly of UMass Medical School,” she said.
Sarita Bhatta, one of the GSN’s first two international students, has come a long way from her native Nepal to pursue graduate nursing studies in Worcester. After much legwork, and with much assistance from the GSN, she obtained a student visa and her Massachusetts RN license, which enabled her to enroll in the traditional master’s program. Ghanaian native Akwasi Duah earned his bachelor of science in nursing at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut before enrolling in the GSN. “I know I can get the same quality education at UMMS as at any private school in the region,” he said of his move.
Students are attracted to UMMS by its atmosphere as well as academic excellence. “I felt at ease here from the start,” recalled GSBS student Melissa Greven, who was surprised and impressed when GSBS Dean Anthony Carruthers, PhD, and Associate Dean Kendall Knight, PhD, introduced themselves by their first names during the annual prospective students’ weekend. She found that everyone else she encountered was just as collegial, giving her the sense of a collaborative atmosphere without ego. “They’re really excited about their science, and exciting research is going on here.”
Integral to the UMMS gestalt is a common commitment to serve others by improving health and health care. Tuft University graduate Emily Chen, who majored in geology, was moved to do more than study rocks after a research trip to a Navajo reservation in Arizona with her geology advisor. Seeing the harsh conditions under which people live there inspired her to become a doctor. She is interested in family medicine and community health after working for two years in a community health center, and she found the UMMS emphasis on primary care attractive.
UMass Amherst grad and entering SOM student Gillian Griffith is curious to learn how other developed countries are managing universal health coverage and looks forward to taking advantage of international medical education opportunities at the Medical School. Both Bhatta and Duah of the GSN hope to eventually return to their native countries in order to improve their developing health care systems.
New students bring a cornucopia of leisure interests as well as serious academic intent to the UMMS community. “Writing and playing music helps me be a whole person, not just a workaholic,” said Rossi, who plays seven instruments. Griffith’s hobby is sewing costumes for Renaissance fairs, while SOM classmate Sarah Tracy’s love of geology has taken her to far flung destinations, including Hawaii and Iceland.
“Our state’s only public academic health sciences center is flourishing, with our students our most valuable asset, and our graduates our most important accomplishment,” said Chancellor Michael Collins. “We continue to attract outstanding students who come to our campus full of promise and altruism, replete with superior academic ability and lives characterized by a commitment of service to others.”