Callana Fox, MD

When Callana Fox, MD SGU ’17, visited Richmond for her interview with the Department of Anesthesiology at Virginia Commonwealth University, everything about the experience just felt right – right down to the smiles on the residents’ faces.

“It’s an amazing program and I think the culture is a good fit for me,” she said. “Also, everybody I interacted with was so genuine and enthusiastic. I could sense they were happy where they were.”

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Dr. Fox earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Her interest in global health spurred her to apply to and enroll in SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which students spend the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, United Kingdom. She enjoyed the program’s smaller class sizes as well as the international experience in and outside the classroom. When time permitted, she and friends traveled throughout Europe, including to Ireland, Scotland, France, Holland, and Switzerland.

With high marks, Dr. Fox was welcomed to SGU’s chapter of the Iota Epsilon Alpha Honor Medical Society. She also volunteered at several health fairs and diabetic clinics in Grenada, and as a mentor to aspiring medical students during clinical rotations in New York City. With a robust resume, Dr. Fox went on 17 residency interviews, and was pleased to learn on Match Day that her career will continue at VCU.

“I think the whole experience has helped me come out of my shell and really helped me to become a much stronger, more resilient applicant,” Dr. Fox said. “Going to SGU taught me to work hard for what I want and to do what needs to get done.”

Orapeleng Phuswane, MD

Dr. Orapeleng Phuswane, who hails from Mochudi, Botswana, is a 2003 graduate of Naledi Senior Secondary School. She is currently Medical Officer in Pediatrics at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone and is “loving every moment.” She credits the plentiful hands-on experience at St. George’s for preparing her for the stint there, where she routinely visits with patients one-on-one and assists on operations.

“We don’t have a lot of doctors here so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to improve my own country,” she said. “Hopefully in the future I will be able to open my own practice.”

Dr. Phuswane earned her Bachelor of Science in Basic Medical Sciences from St. George’s University in 2007 and went on to garner her Doctor of Medicine from St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2011. In doing so, Dr. Phuswane completed her rotations at Stafford Hospital in the UK, where she was named a chapter member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which recognized senior medical students and residents who have demonstrated excellence, dedication, and leadership. In 2012, she completed a one-year medical officer internship at Princess Marina, and in 2015, through having earned a prestigous Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, she spent seven weeks learning methods of operating in government at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

While working toward her MD in Grenada, Dr. Phuswane volunteered as a counselor at a program for adolescent mothers and also worked as a tutor at Bel Air Children’s Home, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to caring for and teaching underprivileged children. In 2012, she served as the SGU School of Medicine class speaker at the first-ever SGU commencement ceremony in Botswana, at which government officials, family, and friends were in attendance. She also emceed the 2016 ceremony.

Dr. Phuswane said she is looking forward to a long career in pediatrics in Botswana, expressing that seeing children’s joy after having been brought back to health is “the greatest reward in the world.” She hopes to eventually own and operate a children’s home focused on children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

“I really enjoy working with children,” she stated. “It’s great to see them smile when they feel better and to see the difference that you’ve made.”

Namrita Prasad, MD

Namrita Prasad, MD SGU ’16, never imagined that she would leave her home or her family, never mind come this far. She grew up in the Fiji Islands, her family had limited resources, and no family member on either side had graduated college. Yet in March, after raising the bar with each year gone by, she celebrated yet another remarkable achievement in her journey, having secured an internal medicine residency at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York.

“It’s unreal to me that I’m even here,” she said, joining fellow St. George’s University graduates as the annual Match Day luncheon. “It was all a dream that seemed unattainable when I was at a community college while working full time. The one thing that led me here was perseverance. I wasn’t the smartest student but I knew how to work hard and ask for help whenever I needed it. I was blessed with wonderful mentors that guided me to where I am today and I am just so extremely humbled.”

She comes from modest beginnings. At age 16, a military coup forced her family to relocate from Fiji to San Bruno, CA, in South San Francisco. Money was tight and her career options, she thought, minimal. However, Dr. Prasad volunteered at several hospitals in the area and joined a summer youth program through Kaiser Permanente, through which she discovered a deep passion for medicine. Dr. Prasad kept pressing forward, enrolling at American River Community College before moving on to the University of California, Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in biological science, with an emphasis on neurology, physiology, and behavioral science. She did this all while working long hours to put herself through school.

Although her family thought it might, Dr. Prasad’s journey didn’t stop there. A UC Davis friend turned her on to SGU, citing its prowess not only in the region but globally. After researching SGU and learning of its wide network of physicians practicing in the United States, Dr. Prasad scored well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), applied, and soon found herself on her way to Grenada, first as part of SGU’s Master of Public Health program. She also served as public relations officer in the Public Health Students Association.

“It was the most amazing experience that I could have ever asked for,” Dr. Prasad said. “The MPH program taught us to think about community health – not just individual health – and to promote healthy living to prevent diseases and empower individuals through education to become active participants in their own health. The health promotions and disease prevention theories and models that I learned in MPH program are still very applicable in everyday interaction that I have with patients to limit the number of readmissions.”

That included during Dr. Prasad’s research, which she conducted while obtaining a Master of Medical Research through SGU. She has created and submitted several manuscripts to peer-reviewed publications, bolstering her residency resume in the process.

Dr. Armand Asarian, Vice Chairman for the Department of Surgery at Brooklyn Hospital and Assistant Dean of Students at SGU, served as a mentor for Dr. Prasad while and after she trained as a clinical student in New York City, a new frontier for her. His protégé’s unique skills were evident to him early.

“She didn’t have an easy trip to this point, but she came early every day, worked hard, she asked for help, she listened to that advice, and did everything she could to better her future,” Dr. Asarian said. “I’m really excited to see her succeed.”

Dr. Prasad shared similar praise for her mentor, Brooklyn Hospital Medical Student Coordinator Karine Camacho, as well as Daniel Ricciardi, MD SGU ’81, Dean of Clinical Studies at SGU and Director of Undergraduate Medical Education at TBHC. All of those she has met along the way have shaped her into the physician – and the individual – that she has become.

“I feel like SGU creates a family for you,” Dr. Prasad said. “I’m grateful that I have encountered such wonderful people because I know I couldn’t have done this without their help and guidance. It wasn’t easy being an immigrant with no idea on how to go about making my dream a reality. The only way I can think of showing my gratitude is to pay it forward and guide students to keep their dream alive and just keep swimming.”

Vimon Seriburi, MD

Vimon Seriburi, MD SGU ’04, is an infectious disease consultant for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, TX, and also recently opened up her own private practice. She specializes in inpatient hospital care, treating wound infections and post-surgical infections. Dr. Seriburi grew up in Thailand before going on to double major in biology and chemistry at Lamar University in Texas. Her pre-health advisor recommended St. George’s University, which she said is “very well equipped in providing students with the resources to become a doctor and to be successful.” Having earned her MD, Dr. Seriburi completed an internal medicine residency at the Hospital of St. Raphael in Connecticut, as well as an infectious disease fellowship at New York Medical College’s program at Westchester Medical Center. She is currently board certified in infectious disease and wound care.

Harshan Weerackody, MD

Harshan Weerackody, MD SGU ’90, is “shoulder to shoulder” with Ivy League graduates at his private cardiology practice, as well as at several hospitals and medical centers throughout New York. A native of Sri Lanka, Dr. Weerackody accepted a scholarship offer to attend St. George’s University, an opportunity for which he is “eternally grateful.” Upon earning his Doctor of Medicine, he completed an internal medicine residency and cardiovascular disease fellowship at Coney Island Hospital, and stayed on to become an Associate Professor and Director of its cardiac catheterization laboratory. Dr. Weerackody is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology, and echocardiography, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. In their free time, Dr. Weerackody and his wife enjoy traveling to remote hospitals and clinics around the world to exchange ideas on patient treatment.

Masaru Nishiaoki

Masaru Nishiaoki was confident that he had matched into his top-choice program, but nevertheless, Match Day still brought some anxiety.

“I think I kind of knew from the vibes I got from the program and the second look that I went on,” Mr. Nishiaoki said. “It wasn’t entirely a surprise, but it was nice to have it in writing.”

He was “elated” to learn he was headed to the Ghent Family Medicine Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA. He returns to the southern region of the US and joins a program that fits his ideals.

“I like the fact that it’s an academic center and that it treats a large underserved population,” Mr. Nishiaoki said. “I’ll be able to practice the full spectrum of family medicine that I want to do later in the future. Also, the residents were so open and kind. They were willing to take an interest in us as clinical students.”

Mr. Nishiaoki became interested in SGU after speaking to his counselors at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. One of his professors was an SGU graduate who greatly valued her experience.

“She spoke very highly about the University, the support system, and the work ethic of the students who go there,” Mr. Nishiaoki said. “She thought that I would be able to come back and pursue a residency in any field that I wanted to.”

He was rewarded for his dedication with a position at his top-choice program, and encourages prospective students to strongly consider SGU if given the chance.

“SGU has such a strong track record,” he said. “I feel more than prepared for residency.”

Matthew Dawdy

On the morning of the match, Matthew Dawdy’s breakfast with his girlfriend and family was just an appetizer to a life-changing moment. When noon arrived, Mr. Dawdy learned that he had secured a highly competitive orthopaedic surgery residency at Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM)—his top-choice program—through the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS).

“We all found out together and were very happy,” he said. “I’m very excited. I’ve been working toward this for four years now.”

As an avid athlete growing up, Mr. Dawdy has been drawn to studying the musculoskeletal system from the early age, choosing to work alongside physicians at area physical therapy clinics. “Everything pointed to orthopaedics for me,” he said. “I like being in the OR, and the field generally attracts people who are interested in active lifestyles.”

Mr. Dawdy obtained his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario before arriving at SGU. From the outset, he knew of orthopaedic surgery’s highly competitive nature, with only a handful of positions available across Canada. “From day one, my focus was on setting up rotations in Canada and building connections,” he said. “It wasn’t something I could half-heartedly pursue. I was definitely all in.”

Mr. Dawdy flourished during his basic science years and gained insight on the path ahead from David Santone, MD SGU ’08, an orthopaedic surgeon in Markham, Ontario who completed his residency at the University of Toronto. Mr. Dawdy confirmed his interest during orthopaedic rotations in his first clinical year and bolstered his resume with two observerships and three orthopaedic elective rotations in Canada. That he interviewed with all four schools with orthopaedic surgery residency programs—one of only two students to do so by his estimation—gave him confidence leading up to the match. He will go through NOSM’s surgical boot camp in July before beginning residency the following month.

Although he traveled a great distance to earn his education, he’s looking forward to diving in headfirst this summer.

“SGU does a really good job of preparing all of its students to be successful,” Mr. Dawdy said. “All the resources we needed were available to us. I think I was as prepared, if not more prepared, than the US students I rotated with. In the end, I kept working as hard as I could, and I’m glad that everything lined up properly.”

Amanda Halstrom, MD

Fifteen minutes from where she grew up, Amanda Halstrom will continue her career in medicine, having matched into the internal medicine residency program at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY. She celebrated with her SGU colleagues while working in the University’s student call center between hospital shifts.

On the list of those who are excited about her return home—just about everyone.

“My family is over the moon,” she said. “My grandparents, my cousins, my friends—they’re very excited to have me back.”

In addition to its proximity to home, Winthrop has everything Ms. Halstrom was looking for in a residency program, which is why she made it her top-choice site. She highly valued the hospital’s wide range of research opportunities as well as fellowships in her projected field of study—gastroenterology—which she found during her clinical years to strike a good balance of procedural and clinical medicine. Ms. Halstrom also enjoyed meeting the program residents, and received positive vibes from St. George’s University graduates who had trained at the hospital.

“I heard they loved it, and that helped in selling it for me,” she said.

Ms. Halstrom has long set her sights on training and practicing on Long Island. She grew up in Bellmore and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware. At SGU, she immersed herself in her studies, while also partaking the University’s Iota Epsilon Alpha chapter and tutoring in the Department of Educational Services. The skills and knowledge obtained in four years at SGU paved the way for her to return home to family, friends, and a burgeoning medical career.

“I studied really hard and took my time at SGU as seriously as possible, but I also enjoyed my time on the island,” Ms. Halstrom said. “SGU was an amazing experience that not many people have, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity. I definitely recommend it for anyone who’s interested in medicine.”

Anna Maro, MD

The improbable, incredible journey of Anna Maro will now wind through Philadelphia—just where she hoped it would. On Match Day, Ms. Maro learned that she was headed to the internal medicine residency program at Drexel University—her number one choice.

“I opened up the email and just jumped for joy,” she said. “I screamed so loud that my neighbor came from downstairs thinking something was wrong. I was so happy though.”

Born and raised in Tanzania, Ms. Maro immigrated to the United States before college. Her mother had passed away a few years prior, and while attending the University of Massachusetts, her father succumbed to cancer. They had called her “little doctor” as a child, and Ms. Maro would not be denied her or their dream, not even as she was forced to work a full-time job and to live in her car for eight months to make ends meet.

She graduated from UMass with a Bachelor of Science in biology, and enrolled at St. George’s University in the fall of 2013. Her desire to land at Drexel was solidified during a visit to Philadelphia during her first clinical training year. It had everything she wanted in a program.

“It’s a university program with several fellowship opportunities, and at the same time, I get to help the underserved, which is my passion,” Ms. Maro said.

Of following her dreams and becoming a physician, Ms. Maro said, “My parents would be very proud. It was hard, but I had this dream that I wanted to accomplish, so I went to work, I went to school, and I smiled like everything was fine. I kept pushing and never gave up.”

Charlotte Marous, MD

As she she crossed the Manhattan Bridge during an afternoon run, her cell phone rang, showing a New York number. Charlotte Marous had been on 11 residency interviews for ophthalmology, but only one in the Big Apple—SUNY Downstate. Amid the hustle and bustle, she received the news that she was had obtained a highly competitive position at her top-choice institution.

“It was the best day of my life,” Ms. Marous said. “It was something that I had been hoping for and dreaming about a very long time.”

Following her basic science years in Grenada, she entered her clinical rotations with an open mind. Although Ms. Marous enjoyed them all, she felt especially drawn to ophthalmology and began to narrow her sights. She gained perspective from numerous acquaintances in the field, including Orazio Giliberti, MD SGU ’82, Associate Dean of US Clinical Studies at SGU and owner/operator of Giliberti Eye & Laser Center in Totowa, NJ.

“Dr. Giliberti was so important in the whole process,” Ms. Marous said. “I was nervous about applying for ophthalmology, but he gave me the confidence to go for it. He really stressed the importance of research and of applying early for outside elective rotations.”

In her final clinical year, she bolstered her research resume and completed externships at the University of Utah, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. Her career will continue in Brooklyn, just another stop in her journey that included a swing through Grenada.

“SGU gave me an opportunity to go into medicine that I didn’t find anywhere else,” Ms. Marous said. “I’m very appreciative of that.”