Year in Review: Students Share 2021 Highlights

December 27, 2021

The last few years have been unprecedented for all. For College of Human Medicine students, navigating medical school during a pandemic has been tough and even a bit scary. Yet through the hardships and challenges, they've shared many amazing experiences and produced incredible accomplishments. As we enter a new year, we asked our students to share their personal highlights as medical students in 2021. Here are just a few of the many inspiring stories.


Medical student stands in front of Secchia CenterKeilah Dos Santos

My highlight of 2021 was walking across the stage at White Coat Ceremony. It’s something that I’ve always excitedly anticipated because it marked the beginning of an important chapter in my life. I couldn’t have made it to that point without the support and prayers from my family and friends who were either with me on that day or tuning in through livestream. Medical school is a marathon, not a sprint. So, when things get hard I think back to that moment and remember who this is for and what it means for my family.



Medical student stands in front of Secchia CenterJocelyn Gaona

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was an essential worker as a member of the food distribution supply chain. Though extremely important, I did not feel as though I was doing enough. Now, almost a year and a half later, I am still an essential worker, but in a different way: as a member of a health care team giving COVID-19 vaccines to patients.

My experiences in clinic have given me the opportunity to put my classroom learning into action. After learning about immunizations during my first few months as a student at the College of Human Medicine, I am able not only to administer COVID-19 vaccines, but also to explain to patients their body’s response to the vaccine, ensuring that they are both more knowledgeable and comfortable when receiving it. I hope to continue to help patients feel at ease when receiving vaccines during their clinic visits and to continue to play my part in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.


Medical student at White Coat CermonyJon Giolitti

I am not one for big celebrations or being the center of attention but being able to have a White Coat Ceremony was incredibly meaningful to me. COVID-19 took a lot of our previous graduation ceremonies, holiday celebrations, weekends out, and time with friends and family. It took lives, put (and is still putting) health care workers through hell, has caused harmful divisions in our world, and took an alarming toll on people’s health, both physical and mental. The White Coat Ceremony was the first time in a long time that I, along with my family, friends, and colleagues, had a reason to celebrate. Perhaps the most exciting part was how we were all physically together in a room, collectively experiencing such genuine joy and pride.

There was a lot that I, along with everyone else in the world, missed out on in 2020 and 2021. The White Coat Ceremony came at a time we all so badly needed; it left me invigorated and optimistic for the years to come. It was a valuable reminder that there is still plenty of good to come in our futures!


Medical student standing in front of Secchia CenterLlyod Mercier

Community. It’s a cornerstone of health care, especially when working in rural areas, and I saw this firsthand during my immersion experience. I listened to physicians talk to their patients about Halloween trick-or-treat times, parent-teacher conferences, events at the local bingo hall, or even the weekly community fish fry. These conversations taught me a lot about relationship building. There seemed to always be a place for people in this small town, and the physicians made sure their patients felt included. Even being an outsider, the community brought me in with open arms. I learned to play euchre, found the best places to watch the sunset in Ludington Park, and ate my fair share of pasties. Of course, in a small town with a small number of resources, it's just as easy for people to feel out of place and fall into the margins. Health care and a sense of community aren’t always accessible, and the lack of physicians willing to serve in rural areas only exacerbates the issue. As a first-year student, I may not know what medical field I want to join, but I do know that I want to help breakdown these accessibility barriers for rural communities.

Did I enjoy my time working in the UP? Oh, you betcha, and I can’t wait to go back.


Medical student in White CoatValery Rozen

On February 18 of this year, I was diagnosed with a left ovarian tumor. I experienced a wave of emotions between the time it took to rule out malignancy, as well as a lack of peace of mind the days and weeks to follow until surgery. Thoughtful consideration of this experience made me realize that even though at the time I was a first-year medical student with some patient interactions, I had not taken the time to understand what patients may go through after sensitive medical diagnoses. I had not taken the time to try to comprehend the emotions of the individuals behind pathological MRI images. And certainly, I had not taken the time to fully understand that in the near future, I could be the one delivering the news of a newly discovered pathology.

Conversely, on February 18th, I had an experience that re-shaped my life values, professional goals, and attitudes. This experience has taught me to welcome hardships with open arms, as there is always something to learn from uncomfortable situations. I chose to transform this uncomfortable situation into an opportunity to be fully involved in the physical and emotional dimensions of health care, as well as developed immense gratitude for an experience that furthered developed my interest in pursuing a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology.


Kevin Suiter

I just finished up my M3 ICU elective at Providence and have nothing but good things to say about it. From day 1 the residents and attendings made me feel like part of the team. The staff in the ICU was exhausted after 2 years of being the front line of the COVID pandemic. However, that never stopped them from taking time to teach and explain why they were doing what they were doing. I learned the ins and outs of managing the sickest patients in the hospital. The highlight was my time was my final week which I chose to do overnights for. I spent the week working with 2 amazing residents – Dr. Abdole, Dr. Basheer and a fellow Dr. Farah (not pictured).

I think we ran a tight ship, practiced some serious medicine and still managed to have enough time to have actual fun at the hospital. Thank you guys for a wonderful experience. I could certainly see myself making a future career out of this.