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Contact: Susan Preston
UMDNJ Will Graduate Largest Class in its History on May 25
--Dr. Anthony Fauci, HIV/AIDS pioneer, Will Deliver Keynote Address--
5/20/05—The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) will graduate its largest class in its history--1,331 students--at this year's commencement on May 25, at 10 a.m., at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will be the keynote speaker and receive one of five honorary degrees being presented. Dr. Fauci, who has been director of NIAID since 1984, is one of the most influential and highly regarded physician/scientists in the world. He has been in the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS and other immune mediated diseases for more than 20 years and has most recently also been asked to oversee the nation’s biodefense research at NIH.
The four other recipients of honorary degrees are:
- Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston, who is internationally recognized for her discoveries in the management of sickle cell disease and has dedicated her career to improving the health of children and their families. She has served as director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees urban community health centers such as the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick.
- Dr. Martha Hill, dean and founding faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She is a researcher renowned for her efforts to prevent and treat hypertension, diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases among urban underserved African-Americans and for unmasking the ethnic and racial disparities in health care.
- Mr. Lester Lieberman, chairman of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and a life-long champion of ensuring innovative, quality health care in Newark, his home town. Under his leadership, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School recently received the largest single grant in the history of the Healthcare Foundation to establish a Center for Humanism in Medicine and provide full scholarships to 10 medical students.
- Dr. Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, is internationally recognized molecular biologist and leading advocate for increasing the number of women and minorities choosing careers in the basic sciences. During her tenure as president, she was instrumental in the establishment of an MD-PhD dual degree program with UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna awards will be presented to four individuals.
- Dr. Leah Albers, the most widely published certified midwife in the nation whose research focuses in the area of childbirth and its complications. She joined the faculty of the University of New Mexico’s College of Nursing in 1991 to launch a master’s program in midwifery. She is a graduate of the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions.
- Dr. Robert Amler, a graduate of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, entered federal government service in 1979, shortly after completing residencies in pediatrics and preventive medicine. Most of his career was spent in a variety of public health positions within the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This past January, he became the dean of the School of Public Health at New York Medical College.
- Vice Admiral Donald Arthur, who holds degrees in medicine, law and health care management, has brought unique expertise in all three areas to his career as the 35th Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy and Chief of its Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, a position he has held since 2004. He is a graduate of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
- Dr. Mary Northridge is the first woman, the first PhD, and the first active researcher to serve as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Public Health. She received a master of public health degree from the now UMDNJ-School of Public Health and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute. Dr. Northridge began her career at the Harlem Health Promotion Center, a collaborative effort of the CDC, Harlem Hospital and Columbia University, where she has worked for more than a decade and is currently that program's director of epidemiology.
Many graduates have interesting stories to tell. Several will be available for interviews/photos on Wednesday between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on the stage at the Arts Center. Press credentials will be distributed at this location as well. If you want to arrange an interview prior to the commencement ceremony, please call Kaylyn Dines at 973-972-7276 or Jerry Carey at 856-566-6171.
The following is an alphabetical list by county of several noteworthy graduates:
Nicole Sirotin, 28, of Hackensack gained an international perspective on how to improve medical education while volunteering in Ghana, Guatemala and Mexico. Following her third year at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Sirotin stretched her student scholar elective to a full year, volunteering with an international student medical association. She spent the first part of her year abroad in Ghana where she worked with community leaders in a small village to provide family planning programs and to help build a community center that will house future volunteers as well as the village’s library and resource center. The second part of the year, she was in Guatemala, working with a local physician who ran a free medical clinic out of homes and churches in the countryside, and in Mexico, working with an organization that provided health and medical education to women and teenagers. Following graduation, Dr. Sirotin will begin an internal medicine residency at the University of California at San Francisco, and she hopes one day to return to academic medicine.
Patricia Paul, 59, of Dumont, was a nurse in 1969 when an auto accident changed her life. An injury to her spinal cord resulted in her leg being amputated, but she was determined to help others. Currently, a rehabilitation counselor at the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Paterson, Patty will receive a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 1989. This proud mother of two sons, Ryan, 32, and Scott, 34, enjoys painting and sculpting.
Being a positive role model is important to Shantay Dinks, 26, of Camden, and the message she has for other young people growing up in her home town is that “you can’t let the image of a city frame what you become.” As a Camden High School student, she was painfully aware of the negative public image of Camden. Her love of science and math led her to pursue a degree in biology at the University of Maryland and then to enroll as a medical student at UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. While in medical school, Dr. Dinks volunteered as a youth mentor at her church and the experience reinforced her belief that Camden’s young people need role models to show them that dreams can’t be limited by circumstance or surroundings. After completing her residency in family medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Dinks plans to return to Camden to practice medicine.
By her own admission, Jennifer Caudle, 27, of Voorhees, a former Miss Iowa, always has several projects going at once and her four years at UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine were no exception. A cum laude graduate of Princeton University, she spent much of her vacation and spare time during medical school talking about bullying to more than 40,000 children, parents and educators during speaking engagements at about 50 schools throughout New Jersey. Dr. Caudle is also a highly accomplished cellist - she minored in musical performance at Princeton and was the talent competition winner in the 1999 Miss America pageant. Her musical interests led her to establish a non-profit organization that raised $80,000 for music education in the public schools and become a national spokesperson for The National Association for Music Education and VH1's Save the Music Foundation. She will pursue her osteopathic internship at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania.
As a child, Sally Johnson, 35, of Collingswood, always had competing interests in art and medicine. She chose an art-related career, and enrolled in the Pratt Institute in New York City, where she pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She began a career in the New York fashion industry, designing men’s and women’s fashions for companies such as Chaps, Ralph Lauren, G.H. Bass, and Jones New York. Five years later, while living in Paris, Dr. Johnson changed directions. She returned to New York City and enrolled in a pre-medical program at Columbia University and then became a medical student at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. Following graduation, she will begin an internship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.
While pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology from the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, Jaime Madrigano, 29, of Belleville, approached her faculty advisor with a project that became VOICES (Volunteer Opportunities in Community Engaged Services). VOICES has become a group of about 20 students and faculty who volunteer their time to bring health education programs on asthma, nutrition and exercise and HIV/AIDS prevention to residents who live in Edison and Camden. Additionally, the VOICES team has raised funds to support the tsunami relief effort, the Dominican Republic Outreach project and HomeFront, a Trenton area organization the provides shelter for homeless individuals.
After graduating from the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, Omar Siddiqui, of Bloomfield, will become a member of the National Health Service Corps, and in return for helping medically underserved families who need oral health care, his dental school tuition debt will be paid by the federal government. Dr. Siddiqui will serve for at least two years as a general practice dentist in Centro De Salud La Fe in San Elizario, Texas, a federally designed health professional shortage area. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Rutgers University-Newark in 2001.
As a student at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, Kamili Willis, 33, lived in East Orange, but her heart was with her husband, a member of the Atlanta (Ga.) City Council, and young daughter. They took turns commuting at least once a month between New Jersey and Georgia. In addition to juggling a commuter marriage with dental school course work, she gave birth to their son 13 months ago. Her path to dentistry began when she was 13 years old and her mother introduced her to Dr. Maria Barden, an alumna of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School. Dr. Willis graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1993, but after working in the investment banking field for a few years, her career goals shifted back to oral health care. She was accepted into a pre-med/pre-dental post-baccalaureate program at Harvard University in Boston and then enrolled in UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School. After graduation, she will go into private practice in the Atlanta area.
A police officer patrolling the streets of Jersey City at night may seem a far cry from a physician treating patients in a hospital, but Terrence Curran, 35, of Jersey City, has done both and he’s found a lot of similarities. In both situations, he’s often met with individuals who are going through a difficult time and he's found that his most essential skill is to be able to listen with understanding and empathy. Dr. Curran hadn’t thought about a career in medicine. Police work seemed more his destiny - his father recently retired after 34 years on the force - but his ultimate aspirations were influenced by some
basic medical training he received in the U.S. Marine Corps soon after he graduated high school. The more he thought about that experience, the more he wanted to enter the medical profession. At the urging of his brother, who is an oncologist, he decided to complete the science pre-requisites and enrolled as a student at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. Still, he couldn't leave his desire for public service entirely behind. Since 2001, he has served as a member of the Jersey City Board of Education.
Dr. Curran will enter a general surgery residency program at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Tim Cannon, 29, of East Brunswick, is 6-foot 5-inches tall and as a freshman was member of the University of Utah basketball team coached the legendary Rick Majerus. He jokingly admits he only played about six minutes during the season. Instead of heading to the National Basketball Association like three of his teammates, Dr. Cannon took a break from college and headed for Taiwan as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He and 11 individuals lived there for two years teaching English and speaking with natives about religion. The next stop on his educational journey was Brigham Young University in Utah, the place where he majored in Chinese and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001. When he graduates from the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Dr. Cannon will become the first physician in his family. After completing a three-year residency program at George Washington University in internal medicine, he plans to pursue a fellowship in oncology.
When Guesly Delva, 28, of Piscataway, moved from Gonaives, Haiti to the United States he was determined to succeed. Although his mother and sister remained in Haiti when he went to live with his father in the U.S., the then-teen remembered lessons his mother taught him about helping people and the importance of being true to self. As a student in Haiti, he remembers not having the luxury of always having school books and science laboratories, and he was struck by how America students took these things for granted. When he fractured his arm as a teenager in Haiti, Dr. Delva experienced first-hand the challenge of accessing medical care. These experiences were his foundation for pursuing a career in medicine. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from SUNY Albany and then enrolled at UMDNJ-Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School. Following commencement, he will begin a four-year combined residency in medicine and pediatrics at Tulane University Medical Center and pursue a subspecialty in infectious disease and tropical medicine.
Maryann Redler, of Edison, 49, worked at an insurance company and got married at 19. Her dream of pursuing and completing her college degree was delayed when she and her husband started a family. Then her husband decided to purchase a flower shop, and so she was sidetracked again. With great joy, Mrs. Redler became a member of the Class of 2005 of the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions and she will receive an
Associate of Science in Psychosocial Rehabilitation degree with a 3.95 cumulative grade point average.
To those who know them, it's no surprise that Mark and Michael Arcaro, 28, of Cream Ridge, are graduating UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School together. They are not only identical twins, but also close friends who, throughout their lives have done most everything together. In high school they played on the same sports teams and they attended the College of New Jersey together where both majored in chemistry. They so closely resemble each other that patients and attending physicians have, on occasion, confused one for the other. At one point, when the brothers were assigned to the same clinical rotation, Michael even volunteered to grow a beard to help minimize the confusion. They may have to consider a similar tactic in the future to help their patients and colleagues. After graduation, Mark and Michael will both begin an internal medicine residency at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and their plans for the future include establishing a joint medical practice.
Elizabeth Koorie, of Somerset, recently flipped through her high school yearbook and saw a picture that may have, in part, foreshadowed her future. In the photo, she was a six-year-old dressed in a white coat and a surgeon's mask. Family health issues probably also had an impact. While she was growing up in Roselle Park in a primarily immigrant neighborhood, her father suffered multiple heart attacks and her grandmother, a native of Cuba, was paralyzed below the waist as a result of a stroke. Dr. Koorie completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology at Rutgers University/Douglass College in 2001, after completing Hackensack High School in three years. She is one of the founders of The Promise Clinic, a health clinic that was established by UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School students for the medically underserved in New Brunswick. She will pursue a three-year family practice residency program at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington.
Eric Galvez, 27, of Sparta, enrolled at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health because he saw a public health career as a way to help people on a “massive” scale. He’s well on his way to that goal. MedAccess-NJ, a program he launched with faculty at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health and the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has already helped more than 1,300 disadvantaged residents of New Jersey receive nearly
$1 million of prescription medications. Basing his idea on a program he helped implement in Maryland while working with VISTA, the MedAccess-NJ program uses the
Internet to streamline the often tedious application and renewal process for the free medication programs provided by pharmaceutical companies. The program is being used to help clients at St. John's Health Center, Chandler Health Center, St. Peter's Clinic and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, all in New Brunswick; Trinity Clinic in Perth Amboy; Newark Community Health Centers, Inc.; and the Parker Clinic in Red Bank. Mr. Galvez will attend law school this fall.
It may seem as if everyone in the family of Jaime Levine, 27, of Springfield, is a physician, but she's really only the 19th family member to graduate from an osteopathic medical school. This extraordinary medical legacy dates back four generations to
Dr. David Steinbaum, her great-grandfather, and includes her grandfather, Dr. Howard Levine; her father, Dr. Steven Levine; and her uncle Dr. Martin Levine. At one time, all four physicians were in practice together, and Dr. Levine recalls spending many happy childhood hours playing at the medical practice, which to her was more than an office. It was also the home of her great-grandparents. As a graduate of UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, she will be launching another tradition. She'll be the first person from her family to graduate from the medical school her grandfather, Dr. Howard Levine, helped found more than 25 years ago. Before entering a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan,
Dr. Levine will complete a rotating osteopathic internship at Maimonides Medical Center. While she's there, she also will be training with her father for the New York City Marathon in November.