White Coat Ceremony welcomes new School of Medicine studentsJul. 28, 2023, 11:03 AM
by Kathy Whitney
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine welcomed 96 first-year students on Friday, July 21, during its annual White Coat Ceremony, marking the students’ journeys to becoming physicians and physician-scientists.
“Today is a day of celebration. It’s a big achievement; you should be proud of what you’ve done,” said Donald Brady, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Health Science Education and Executive Vice President for Educational Affairs. “It takes all of the colors of the spectrum to make white light. As you put that white coat on today, I want you to remember you’ve got to bring your whole self, your whole game, to being a medical student and being a physician when you finish to every patient you see, every lab work you do, everybody you teach in the future.”
The members of the class include 80 MD, 15 Medical Scientist Training Program and one oral and maxillofacial surgery student. Thirty-two percent of the class is underrepresented in medicine, and 1 percent is international.
The first-year class was selected from a pool of more than 6,500 applicants. The students who successfully matriculated to VUSM come from 26 states, one foreign country, and 58 undergraduate schools with 30 majors.
Members of the class include researchers, fellowship award winners, advocates for the underserved, missionaries, teaching assistants, fast-food and coffee shop workers, hospice care volunteers, musicians, leaders in extracurricular activities and musicians — to name a few of their pre-medical school activities and jobs.
Kossivi “Armel” Mignondje comes to VUSM from the University of Notre Dame where, in 2020, he was a member of the Irish Guard, which accompanies the marching band and is a longstanding Notre Dame tradition. This experience allowed him to travel across the U.S. At Notre Dame he majored in biology with a minor in theology. Mignondje is originally from Omaha, Nebraska.
Katlyn Gonzalez is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt. After completing her 200-hour yoga teaching certification in 2019, she began conducting research with the Osher Center for Integrative Health at VUMC, investigating the biological impact of yoga and mindfulness-based interventions.
“I hope to continue my work in medical school,” Gonzalez said. “I chose VUSM because of the incredible faculty, research opportunities and connection to the Nashville community.”
Kaitlyn Mi, MPH, is from Brentwood, Tennessee, and attended undergraduate school at Brown University, where she earned a degree in cognitive neuroscience. She then went to Dartmouth and received a Master of Public Health.
Mi interned at NASA and worked with the Radiation Risk team at Langley Research Center to connect space radiation to neurological aging.
“I didn’t exactly go to Mars, but it was such a fantastic experience being able to work with a team of extremely passionate, knowledgeable researchers in so many different fields. It’s certainly not every day that I get to work with astrophysicists and aerospace engineers,” Mi said.
“VUSM has been my dream medical school since I was a middle schooler. I grew up around Vandy and have been fortunate to meet so many VUSM students and alumni who exemplify personalized, compassionate care. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to study here and am excited to be a part of the Vanderbilt family.”
Brady acknowledged the White Coat donors who support the many activities of Medical Student Affairs.
“Thank you for your generosity and donations. The donors not only provide the white coats you’ll be getting today, but they support programming for a lot of the well-being adventures we do through the Medical Student Affairs office,” he told the students. “Our donors come from 465 households this year, across 45 states, and include alums of the School of Medicine who graduated in 1949.”