SGU Recognizes Graduate’s 20 Years of Service to Grenada

SGU alumnus Dr. Mark Lanzieri implants cardiac pacemakers in OR 1 at St. George’s General Hospital in St. George’s, Grenada.

He lives and works thousands of miles away from Grenada, yet interventional cardiologist Mark Lanzieri, MD ’85, has carved out time in his schedule, time and time again, to give back to the island. For 20 years, the St. George’s University graduate has provided cardiology services at no cost to the people of Grenada.

For his selfless contributions, St. George’s University awarded Dr. Lanzieri with a Doctorate of Humane Letters over commencement weekend in New York City.

“For many people, this is life changing, whether it is a single-chamber pacemaker, a stent, or simply something that allows them to go back to work or keeps them out of the hospital,” said Dr. Lanzieri, staff cardiologist, Steward Health Care in Massachusetts. “This work is important because there are immediate benefits conferred to patients who do not need to leave their family and social support networks. It is pure humanitarian medicine at its best and I love what I do.”

Dr. Lanzieri visits three times a year to treat Grenadians who in the past would have had to fly to other Caribbean islands or as far away as New York or Miami to have these procedures done. To date, he has implanted more than 100 pacemakers and performed 20 coronary angioplasty procedures, arguably adding a collective thousand or more years of life to Grenadians.

Since its inception in 2000, the Visiting Cardiology Program, under the sponsorship of St. George’s University School of Medicine, continues to provide much needed heart care for adult Grenadians free of cost to them. Dr. Lanzieri and his team, which includes his wife, Annie, an X-ray technologist and cardiovascular specialist, have seen a wide variety of patients since the program’s inception. The value of their time and the equipment donated has exceeded $1 million.

The visits are arranged through the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network (SGU-PHuN), a program that Dr. Lanzieri was instrumental in creating.

“We at SGU are extremely grateful to Dr. Lanzieri and the vast network of friends and associates volunteering their time and expertise as we continue to work hand-in-hand towards the goal of top-notch healthcare delivery here in Grenada,” said Mr. Brendon La Grenade, Vice Provost for Institutional Advancement. “Dr. Lanzieri represents the spirit of the SGU Physician Humanitarian Network. Today, we’re seeing more patients in a month in this clinic than we probably saw in an entire year in the first few clinics that we ran.”

“The Ministry of Health is constantly looking for ways to bridge the shortfalls at the General Hospital and the medical community at large, because our aim is to improve the delivery of health care in Grenada,” said the Hon. Nickolas Steele, Minister for Health and Social Security, Grenada. “We congratulate Dr. Lanzieri on his 20 years of service to the Grenadian people. Even though you weren’t born here, you were educated here, you returned here, and you’ve cared for our people. As the Ministry of Health and the Government of Grenada seek to nurture the relationship forged with St. George’s University, future plans to build on his legacy will include increased collaboration in the areas of pediatric ophthalmology and intensive care training for staff at the General Hospital.”

Thirty-four years after he graduated, Dr. Lanzieri marvels at the exponential growth of a program that once hailed from the humble beginnings of a single room at the General Hospital. The clinic now has a dedicated center at Grand Anse with more and more St. George’s University alumni and friends of SGU signing on and dedicating their time and expertise for the monthly clinics, and new services, like angiography, are being introduced. According to Dr. Lanzieri, this work is critically dependent on humanitarian support from corporations including Medtronic, ZOLL, St. Jude Medical, Merit Medical, and Terumo that will hopefully always be available.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Ophthalmology Clinic Provides Transformative Eye Care Surgeries in Grenada

 

In what is considered the largest eye care event in Grenada’s history, the School of Medicine’s Division of Ophthalmology, in conjunction with the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network (SGU-PHuN), recently performed a 14-day clinic with six visiting surgeons equipped with specialized ophthalmic micro-surgical instruments, and three highly-trained technicians—all committed to the goal of increasing the access and delivery of quality vision care at no cost to Grenadian citizens.

Spearheaded by the father-daughter duo of Orazio Giliberti, MD ’82, and Francesca Giliberti, MD ’10, the Division of Ophthalmology partnered in a first-time collaboration with Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International, a non-profit organization which treats a variety of sight-impairing conditions around the world, along with Grenada’s Ministry of Health to ensure its success.

“In an amazing outpouring of philanthropy, our team and SGU’s Division of Ophthalmology secured an additional operating scope, slit lamp, phaco machinery, and microinstruments, as well as, pharmaceutical donations to the SGU-PHuN clinic,” said Orazio Giliberti, MD ’82, FACS. “These machines and materials mimic a US-style operating room, which will allow future graduates, physicians, and SGU friends and guests to provide essential ophthalmic services.

“In its quest to provide much-needed aid to the Grenadian people, the SGU School of Medicine and Division of Ophthalmology continue to be ambassadors for medical education and vision,” added Dr. O. Giliberti.

Led by Dr. Francesca Giliberti, the team arrived in Grenada with more than $200,000 USD worth of equipment and medical supplies. During this two-week mission, the visiting ophthalmology teams evaluated approximately 250 patients and performed 49 surgical procedures, including cataract surgery. The overall donation amount, provided free of charge to the clinic, including airfare, shipping costs, patient visits, and ophthalmic surgeries, totaled over $750,000 USD.

“Overall, the clinic proved to be successful with a strong turnout and positive reviews from patients,” said Francesca Giliberti, MD ’10, JD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at SGU. “Our clinic patients benefited from expert medical advice, and in some instances, underwent vision-saving surgical procedures such as advanced cataract surgery. We were privileged to have an SGUSOM parent and experienced nine-time returning glaucoma and cataract surgeon, Dr. Philip M. Fiore, on this mission. The Division of Ophthalmology and the SGU-PHuN also provide a great resource of clinical material for students to learn.”

“Through the SGU-Physician Humanitarian Network, Dr. Giliberti and his team have performed dozens of surgeries free of cost to the Grenadian people,” said Mr. Brendon La Grenade, Vice Provost for Institutional Advancement. “In 2011, he and his daughter, Francesca launched an ophthalmology clinic in Grenada, which sponsored over 25 physician trips to the island. Since then, the program has attracted the interest of doctors from all over the United States and abroad, including other SGU alumni, who are willing to donate both their time and equipment to such a worthy cause.”

Today, Dr. Orazio Giliberti is the Associate Dean of US Clinical Studies, and the Director of Ophthalmology at St. George’s University, heading a department that boasts no fewer than 30 skilled ophthalmologists. He also owns and operates a private practice, Giliberti Eye and Laser Center, in Totowa, NJ. Giliberti Eye and Laser Center is comprised of three SGU graduates. Dr. Orazio Giliberti works with his daughter, Francesca, who credits her father as the major inspiration in her life, and Dominick I. Golio, MD ’98, who also is a practicing craniofacial and oculoplastic surgeon in New York City.

– Ray-Donna Peters

SGU alumni Orazio Giliberti, MD ’82, and his daughter, Francesca Giliberti, MD ’10

St. George’s University Grants Four Honorary Degrees, Service Awards During 2019 Commencement

St. George’s University honored a new class of medical school graduates from 38 countries and bestowed honorary doctorates and service awards on four individuals during its commencement ceremonies this past weekend.

“It is my pleasure to be here once again at one of these ceremonies to recognize your accomplishments,” said Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Directors at St. George’s University, in his opening remarks.

Doctorates of Humane Letters were awarded to Dr. Mark Lanzieri, a Massachusetts cardiologist and 1985 St. George’s alumnus, and José Sánchez, President and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago.

For 20 years, Dr. Lanzieri has returned to Grenada to provide cardiological care free of charge to Grenadians. He encouraged the Class of 2019 to stay connected to the St. George’s community. “We need your involvement more than ever,” he said. “I would encourage you that this is not your last interaction with SGU or Grenada, and that you become involved early with the alumni association.”

Dr. Sánchez has managed healthcare and hospital systems for more than three decades. He is a member of the Illinois State Board of Health and helps lead several other state boards, councils, and commissions.

Marty Lyons, a philanthropist and former defensive lineman for the New York Jets, and Congressman Max Rose received Distinguished Service Awards.

In 1982, Lyons founded the Marty Lyons Foundation, which has 11 chapters across the United States. The non-profit grants wishes for terminally ill children.

“Life is about making opportunities and choices,” Mr. Lyons said. “You’ve made one that started four years ago, when you started to chase a dream of helping other people, and making a difference in this world.”

Congressman Rose is a decorated war veteran who represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which includes Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Prior to his election to Congress, he was Chief of Staff for Brightpoint Health, a non-profit dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of New York City’s underserved populations.

Newest St. George’s University Physicians Celebrate Commencement at Lincoln Center

 

This summer, St. George’s University School of Medicine’s Class of 2019 will go their separate ways, joining residency programs throughout the United States, Canada, and the world. But before doing so, the newest class of physicians reconvened once more in New York City for SGU’s annual commencement ceremonies at Lincoln Center.

The atmosphere inside David Geffen Hall was festive as family and friends gathered to watch this year’s graduates join an alumni network of more than 17,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 United States and in over 50 countries worldwide.

In addressing the crowd, Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of St. George’s University, marveled at the aptitude and commitment of this year’s graduates, also noting that approximately 100 members of the 2019 class had some kind of familial tie to an SGU alumnus. Among them was Tracey O’Brien, MD ’19, daughter of SGU charter class grad John O’Brien, MD ’81.

“Our charter class graduates faced the same trials and tribulations that you have had in studying medicine,” Dr. Modica said. “They didn’t have quite the same facilities that you had, but they had the same attitude, the same thirst of knowledge, and the same quest to succeed.”

On that quest was Henry McGee, MD ’19, who was excited to rejoin his colleagues at Lincoln Center just weeks prior to beginning a pediatrics residency at Case Western Reserve University’s MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. It was his top-choice program.

“I’m from northeastern Ohio, and it’s the community that I wanted to serve,” he said. “As a doctor, it’s all about the people that you’re taking care of, and for me, it was Ohio. I’m glad that I’m able to do what I always wanted to do.”

For his success, Dr. McGee credits the strong bond he made with fellow aspiring physicians, as well as the support of his family.

“Today is really exciting, to be honest,” he said. “This day is for us, but it’s also for my parents and all the people who helped us get to where we are. I can’t believe the person that I’ve become compared to where I was when I started medical school.”

Randolph DiLorenzo, MD ’19, followed in the footsteps of his father, Randolph, who graduated from SGU in 1988. He has gone on to become the medical director at Syosset Hospital on Long Island.

The newest DiLorenzo alum will begin his internal medicine residency at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. SIUH is part of Northwell Health, for which he had previously served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and done bariatric surgery research.

“Every day I tried to set out to accomplish a goal, and all of those goals have added up to this one big goal—graduating from medical school,” he said. “Now that I’m here, there’s more to accomplish.”

St. George’s University also honored four special guests at the weekend’s festivities. Mark Lanzieri, MD ’85, a cardiologist at Central Maine Heart Associates, was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for providing visiting cardiological services at no charge to hundreds of Grenadian citizens through SGU’s Physician Humanitarian Network for 20 years. Jose Sanchez, president and chief executive officer at Chicago’s Norwegian American Hospital, was honored for his extensive contributions to improving healthcare in Chicago as well as New York, where as a senior executive with NYC Health + Hospitals, he helped establish its network of hospitals as a hub for St. George’s University clinical students.

SGU also presented distinguished service awards to Marty Lyons, former New York Jets defensive lineman and founder of the Marty Lyons Foundation, as well as Max Rose from New York’s 11th Congressional District. Congressman Rose has also received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service in the United States Army.

“Never in the history of this country have we asked more of doctors, and never have we needed primary care doctors more,” Congressman Rose said. “You’re going to be asked to do something over the course of your profession that doctors have never been asked to do. You will be asked to look beyond the four corners of your own office to analyze and treat every part of a human being. Elected officials, bureaucrats, and everyone in between are going to ask you of that. So I say to you today, as we peer as well, that I look forward to working with you. I look forward to being in the trenches with you. We have a lot of work to do.”

SGU Grad Reveals “The Truth About Caribbean Medical Schools”

For Jessica Willett, MD ’13, St. George’s University was her first-choice medical school. The education and experience she had at SGU have propelled her to become an emergency medicine physician at San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp, CA. She set out to learn from an international faculty, with an international student body, and through international experiences like the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University four-year MD program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program), and as a physician and board member for Flying Doctors of America. With philanthropy high on her list of values, she appreciates the opportunity to practice medicine in underserved and underdeveloped communities throughout her medical career.

KevinMD.com recently published her story titled “The Truth About Caribbean Medical Schools,” in which she stated, “I suspected that SGU held unique options that would help me to mold my career down the road, and I wasn’t wrong.”

Medical Education Without Borders: SGU/NU Faculty Present at Prestigious Scientific Conference in Iraq

Three members of St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University (SGU/NU) Four-Year MD Program faculty presented six platform and four poster presentations at the Second International Scientific Conference of Medical Sciences Institute (ISCMS), held on April 10 and 11 at University of Al-Qadisiyah College of Medicine in Diwaniyah, Iraq.

Following visits to NU’s campus in Newcastle, United Kingdom, by the dean, Professor Aqeel Al-Barqawee and nine other Al-Qadisiyah faculty members; Drs. Nahidh Al-Jaberi, clinical instructor; Gordon Bourne, MD ’17 clinical tutor; and James Coey, assistant dean of basic science were invited to deliver keynotes at a conference attended by more than 1,000 participants. Delegates included Professor Emad Aldin Toma, chairman of the Iraqi Medical Council, representatives of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Minister of Health, as well as participants from nations including Australia, India, Turkey, and Pakistan.

“The attendance at conference of our international friends from SGU has reinforced our commitment to strengthening academic collaboration between Iraqi medical schools and international counterparts,” said Professor Ferdous Al-Tarahi, president of University of Al-Qadasiyah. “We are now developing plans to send students and faculty members for training in UK hospitals and medical schools.”

Dr. Al-Jaberi is a graduate of Al-Nahrain College of Medicine in Baghdad, and trained as a physician at Al-Kadhimiya Teaching Hospital. He went on to head of Department of Histology and Embryology at the hospital, and is now a discipline manager and clinical instructor at SGU/NU. He pointed out that Iraq has historically been a center of medical education going back to the establishment of Mesopotamia.

“That rich history means that, in spite of the recent past, its medical practitioners and educators remain committed to excellence and keen to engage with the international medical community,” he said.

Dr. Coey is a firm proponent of enabling future physicians to provide evidence-based medicine through “evidence-based medical education.” The advancement of medical education in Iraq has been hindered by the academic isolation brought about by conflict, sanctions, and terrorism over the past 30 years.

“As physicians working in the field of medical education, we have a moral and ethical obligation to share best practice so as to enhance patient outcomes across the globe,” he said.

The SGU/NU program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program) was established to provide students with the opportunity to study within and experience a different healthcare environment and culture. Sharing and exchanging knowledge internationally are at the heart of the program’s ethos.

SGU has been an innovator in the field of medical education over the past 40 years, being the first medical school of its kind in the Caribbean. It has now educated more international medical students than all US medical schools combined and contributed more than 16,000 physicians from over 140 countries to the global physician workforce.

The SGU MD program is underpinned by small group sessions of 6-8 students facilitated by medically qualified clinical tutors and instructors. Gordon Bourne, MD ’17, clinical tutor and grandson of Geoffrey Bourne, SGU’s first vice Chancellor, believes that “using clinical tutors not only reinforces the clinically relevant aspects to prehospital studies but also engenders professionalism through near peer mentorship.”

Dreams Fulfilled on 2019 Match Day

 

On Match Day 2019, St. George’s University students and graduates once again demonstrated their aptitude and excellence, with more than 890 securing first-year residency positions in the United States. The numbers are expected to climb in the coming weeks.

Students matched into highly competitive positions in such fields as anesthesiology, child neurology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/emergency medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, surgery, urology, vascular surgery. They will join residency programs in 42 US states and the District of Columbia this summer.

“We couldn’t be prouder of those who are on to the next chapter in their careers,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “Each and every student showed great dedication and perseverance in order to clear each hurdle in their journey, and we’re delighted to see that they’ve been rewarded for their efforts.”

 

Scores of students gathered at SGU’s Match Day Luncheons in New York City and Miami, collectively celebrating as the match results were revealed by the National Resident Matching Service. Gaelle Antoine, MD ’19 (expected), described matching into her number one choice – the anesthesiology program at Brown University—as “surreal.”

“I’m still processing that my dream actually came true,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. All the sleepless nights and the ups and downs, that I matched at Brown made it totally worth it.”

Ms. Antoine was raised in Haiti before earning her bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College. When considering options for medical school, she seized the opportunity to enroll at SGU.

“I made such long-lasting friends in Grenada, and met some amazing professors, mentors, and faculty members,” she said. “As much as I want to say that I did a lot of it, SGU really played a big part of my success. The education was tailored for me to make it to the top, which is where I am right now.”

She now joins a diverse residency program that “represents America as well as the best of the population in medicine.”

Al Lore, MD ’19 (expected), will join the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beaumont Health in Dearborn, MI. As an SGU student, he appreciated the camaraderie among his medical school brethren in Grenada, and felt a similar tight-knit community at Beaumont.

“When I went to interview, as soon as I walked into the department, everyone was so welcoming,” he said. “It felt like such a great working environment to work in for the next four years of my life.”

Like other Class of 2019 members, Mr. Lore waited anxiously for the news to arrive on Match Day. It proved to be well worth the wait.

“This whole week, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Christmas Day to come,” he said. “You can’t wait for it to arrive, and then when that moment hits, it’s just an incredible feeling.”

Adam Lane, MD ’19 (expected), will begin residency with the internal medicine program at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell/Mather before going on to a diagnostic radiology residency at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ. Even for someone who describes himself as “laid-back,” Match Week made for an anxious time. He was thrilled to discover that he’d go into Atlantic Health’s program at Morristown.

Mr. Lane feels that his inquisitive nature is a natural fit with the field, and he’s also looking forward to serving the departments throughout the hospital.

“Some people think you just sit in the dark looking at imaging, but it’s so much more than that,” he said. “You have to have great communication skills. Every single specialty relies on radiology to provide critical insight so that they can better direct their clinical decisions, so you have to be able to communicate effectively. I’m just so excited to get started.”

While some had never visited Grenada prior to medical school, it had long been a second home for Anna Stransky, MD ’19 (expected). Her father, Martin Stransky, graduated from SGU in 1983 before going on a long and successful career in neurology. Anna had first visited there while her father was still a student, and many times over while growing up in Connecticut.

Her own SGU experience has catapulted her to an internal medicine residency position at Stamford Hospital in the aptly named Nutmeg State. It was her top choice.

“The road was long and sometimes bumpy, but I’m very happy to finally have the chance to be a practicing physician,” she said.

Ms. Stransky pointed to her support system as part of the reason for her success. That includes the friends she made on the island.

“SGU started as a ‘mom and pop’ organization, and there remains a very family-oriented vibe around it,” she said. “From day one, everyone is looking out for you. If you ask for help from students or faculty, there’s certainly support there for you.”

 

“The education was tailored for me to make it to the top, which is where I am right now.”

Gaelle Antoine, Year 4 MD Student

 

Like Ms. Stransky, Muaaz Masood, MD ’19 (expected), is headed home. He grew up outside Atlanta, and will begin his internal medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia this summer.

“Home is a special place for me,” he said. “I felt that especially so at MCG, which solidified that this was going to be the right place for me the next three years.”

Mr. Masood was able to spend time in Georgia, having rotated at DeKalb Medical Center, one of SGU’s 70-plus clinical affiliates. He also took advantage of the expansive network of hospitals at which SGU students rotate, having trained in New York, Florida, and California as well. His travels took him well away from where he’d end up, but also gave him great perspective.

“It was a long journey, but it was 100 percent worth it,” Mr. Masood said. “My dream came to life.”

The Match Day news came just two weeks after 16 SGU students secured first-year residency positions in Canada through the Canadian Resident Match Service. For the complete list of 2019 residency appointments and a broad view of SGU’s track record of placing doctors in the US workforce, visit the SGU Graduate Success page.

– Brett Mauser

Sixteen SGU Graduates Secure Residency Positions in Canada Through CaRMS Match

Aspiring physicians from Canada have long used St. George’s University School of Medicine as a springboard to a career in medicine, and that much was evident this month as 16 SGU students and graduates obtained first-year residency positions through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS).

This summer, SGU alums will begin postgraduate training in fields such as anatomy and pathology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry, matching into positions at hospitals in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan. Since 2010, more than 140 SGU graduates have earned residency positions in Canada.

“We are delighted that our physician graduates continue to bolster the Canadian healthcare system,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “Canada is in need of great doctors across all provinces and specialties, and we wholeheartedly believe that SGU graduates fit that mold.”

 

“I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa.”

Vanessa Lauzon, Year 4 MD Student

 

It was an exhilarating day for SGU students who are amid their fourth-year clinical training in the United States and Canada. After completing rounds in New York City, Vanessa Lauzon, MD ’19 (expected), waited anxiously with two colleagues as noon approached. She felt confident in her chance to match in Canada, having scored well on Canadian board exams and received numerous residency interviews countrywide.

Ms. Lauzon rejoiced upon learning she had matched at her top-choice institution—the family medicine residency program at the University of Ottawa, just 50 minutes from Montebello, QC, where she grew up.

“It was very nerve-wracking all morning, but then when I saw that I was going home, I cried and immediately called my family,” she said. “It’s life-changing. I can go back to Canada and start to build my life there.”

In addition to proximity to her family, Ms. Lauzon appreciated that the program is bilingual, allowing her to speak her native French, its opportunities for global health, its 1:1 physician/resident ratio, and 25 multidisciplinary sites at which residents’ opportunities to medicine run the full gamut.

The variety mirrors her St. George’s University experience. A graduate of McGill University’s nursing program, Ms. Lauzon opted to join SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program , for which students spend the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in the UK. Her studies then took her to Grenada, the United States, and Canada, having completed electives in Vancouver, BC; Sudbury, ON; and Montreal, QC.

She is enthused about the career that awaits her in Ottawa, including the opportunity for fellowship after residency. “I’m so grateful and happy to be going to Ottawa,” she said.

 

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice.”

Ryan Toews, Year 4 MD Student

 

On the day of the match, Ryan Toews, MD ’19 (expected) worked a 6am – 2pm emergency medicine shift at Ascension St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, MI, on the day of the match, meaning he waited more than two hours to find out where he was headed.

“It was perfect because it kept me busy,” Mr. Toews said. “I didn’t want to check at work because, no matter the result, I didn’t want it to affect patient care.”

The wait proved to be worth it. Mr. Toews was thrilled to discover he had matched into the family medicine residency program at the University of Saskatchewan’s site in Swift Current. He’ll practice just two hours from his hometown of Medicine Hat, AB.

After earning his nursing degree from the University of Calgary, Mr. Toews had applied twice to Canadian medical schools. Instead of delaying his dream further, he applied to and enrolled in SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, where he appreciated the small class sizes and introduction to the UK healthcare system. In addition to a strong basic sciences knowledge gained in the UK and Grenada, he prospered during two years of clinical training at St. John’s, an experience he called “superb.”

Now he’ll use the knowledge and skills he gained to treat citizens in and around Swift Current.

“SGU got me exactly where I wanted to be—my number one choice,” he said. “Even if I’d gone to medical school in Canada, I’d have picked Swift Current as my number one.”

 

“To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Etai Shachar, Year 4 MD Student

 

Mr. Toews worked side by side with Etai Shachar, MD ’19 (expected), for much of his time in Detroit, although on the day of the CaRMS match, Mr. Shachar was in Toronto for an emergency medicine elective. As it turned out, that’s where he’ll continue his medical career as he matched into the University of Toronto’s EM program.

When he began his medical school journey, he hoped it would unfold just as it did.

“U of T has been my number one choice for quite some time,” Mr. Shachar said. “To end up exactly where I’d hoped to be is almost surreal. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Born and raised in Toronto, he double-majored in biology and medical sciences at the University of Western Ontario before obtaining his master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Guelph. He chose to attend SGU because of its track record for student success in the US and Canada, and after hearing positive reviews from family friends who had graduated from SGU and are now practicing in New Jersey.

After two years in Grenada, Mr. Schachar strengthened his critical care resume with rotations in New York City and Detroit, which he said set him up well for Canadian residency interviews.

“As a student, I made sure to take advantage of the spectrum of hospitals that SGU has access to,” he said. “I really appreciated the diversity of cases that I saw, and learned to love and thrive on the energy and pace of the ER.”

The CaRMS match came two weeks ahead of the United States match, which takes place on Friday, March 15. In 2018, SGU students and graduates obtained a record number of residency positions, with 941 secured in the US alone. Visit our 2019 residency listing page for a complete list of SGU physicians who will begin their residencies this summer.

– Brett Mauser

Robert Alig Named New Vice President of Alumni Affairs

In November, St. George’s University named Robert Alig as its new vice president of alumni affairs, a role for which he looks forward to connecting with the more than 20,000 graduates across the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies. We sat down with Mr. Alig to discuss his background and the goals that he has for SGU and its alumni.

St. George’s University: What elements of your background sets you up to take the reins of alumni affairs at SGU?

Bob Alig: I was the assistant vice president of alumni relations at the University of Pennsylvania for seven years, overseeing alumni programming and engagement for its four undergraduate schools and all graduate programs. Prior to that, I was the director of MBA admissions and financial aid at the Wharton School, for which I was able to travel to 35 countries and share the message of a place that, as an alum, meant a great deal to me. I saw firsthand the energy, commitment, and enthusiasm of Penn’s alumni, not only to give back in terms of philanthropy, but also their time, talent and enthusiasm.

Collectively, I saw what we could accomplish when working in partnership, and what the advocacy of Penn alumni meant for the momentum of the university, anchored in strengthening its reputation and expanding its international footprint. I think this experience dovetails beautifully with what I’ve observed and learned during my brief tenure here.   SGU is on a remarkable trajectory and it has so much to be proud of. I am committed to an alumni relations effort that reflects the momentum and the diversity of the University.

SGU: What do you hope to accomplish in the first few months?

BA: I think it’s vital to connect with alumni to understand their own paths to SGU and what made it a special place for them. Listening and learning now, and agreeing on a plan that leverages our unique strengths will position us for success and continued momentum.   

It’s also important to help alumni understand how SGU can support them in their careers, in their continuing education, and at the same time, for them to advocate for SGU. In years past, education was thought of as an episodic period of time—you’re a student for four years and you get your degree. Now, I think it’s much more about a lifetime of learning and engagement. SGU can and should be the intellectual home of its alumni.

Sometimes I think about my role as helping several thousand current SGU students to feel like alumni, and helping 16,000 SGU alumni feel like students, reconnecting them with their experiences and what’s currently happening on our True Blue campus.

SGU: What do you view as the biggest challenge that faces alumni affairs here and in general?

BA: I think getting my arms around alumni data here is very similar to the challenge I faced when I started at Penn. Every higher education institution struggles with capturing data and using it effectively.

SGU: How can staying connected with SGU help our alumni in their careers?

BA: It makes perfect sense that we could keep our alumni engaged so that they can learn from each other and tap into each other’s networks and experiences. The pace of change in our work and personal lives has escalated significantly. The practice of radiology—or any field—has evolved dramatically in the last 15 years, so it’s important that our graduates not only stay current, but set the standard for the future through continuing education and engagement with their alma mater.

SGU: In what ways are you looking to connect with SGU alumni?

BA: There is nothing better than meeting SGU alumni in person, ideally on the True Blue campus, but I’ve also connected with alumni via social media, phone, and email, and want to continue to do so. I want to quickly figure out how we can connect and make it easy for them to stay in touch with me, their fellow alumni, and SGU.

SAS Grads Pen Children’s Books to Inspire Grenada’s Youth

Photo courtesy Grenada Schools Inc.

The newest reading options on shelves throughout Grenada’s 56 primary schools come courtesy of a weeklong writers workshop coordinated by the non-profit organization Room to Read and Grenada Schools Inc. Of the seven books recently published, three were written by St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences graduates.

Alyssa Bierzynski, BA SGU ’08, Kissandra Smith, BSc SGU ’09, and Christal Radix, BSc SGU ’13, celebrated when their books were handed over to school directors at a ceremony held at Grenada Trade Center in October. The mission of the initiative is to strengthen the foundation of early literacy by building and improving libraries at primary schools in Grenada and its sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Twelve Grenadians were invited to participate in the workshop, during which they were instructed on all elements of book writing. Scripts for the stories were created, edited, and finalized in October 2017, and came to life a month later with the work of artists participating in a local illustrators workshop.

Although each SAS grad entered with at least some modicum of writing experience, the workshop proved challenging.

“I’ve written many press releases and articles, but writing for children isn’t anything like writing for adults,” Ms. Bierzynski said. “You have to get straight to the point and let the action happen.”

“We were trying to capture children’s imaginations with these books, so in order to do so, we couldn’t write from an adult’s perspective; we almost had to pretend to be a child again,” added Ms. Smith.

In “Keara’s Kite”, Ms. Smith told the story of a young girl who tried relentlessly to build a kite that could fly high during kite season in Grenada. She named the book after her 4-year-old niece, who Ms. Smith can already see shares her sense of adventure.

“I wanted to create a story that younger nieces and nephews could learn from and hopefully inspire them to go on and do bigger things,” Ms. Smith said.

Ms. Bierzynski penned “Carla Dances Soca”, a 24-page story about a young ballerina who strove to learn a new dance despite her friends’ skepticism and jeers. The author admits that Carla’s background as a ballerina mirrors her own upbringing in Grenada, where she attended Westmorland Junior School.

“I was always walking on my tippy toes as a child,” said Ms. Bierzynski, who’s now an instructor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at SGU.

According to Ms. Bierzynski, her story came together during the workshop hours but she continued to refine it each night afterward. It underwent many waves of revisions, including cutting a once 600-word story down to just 200.

“I am really excited that we have written a series of culturally relevant picture books for children,” she added. “As an English teacher, it breaks my heart when a child struggles with reading or can’t identify his or her favorite book. Being part of this project shows them that reading can be fun. Also, with Carla doing ballet at the beginning of the book, it exposes them to a world that they may not have been exposed to before.”

Ms. Radix, who earned her degree in tourism and hospitality management in 2013, created a story titled “Red Car vs. Blue Ball”. Because Grenada Schools Inc., is a not-for-profit organization, the books cannot be sold at retail stores or online, but each author expressed gratitude for being allowed to play a role in shaping Grenada’s future. The workshop was the second of its kind in Grenada. In 2015, Grenada’s authors wrote six new books that were put on schools’ libraries throughout the country in 2016.

“It was a very rewarding experience,” Ms. Smith said. “Writing a children’s book is something that I have dreamed about doing for a long time.”

– Brett Mauser