SGU Grad One of the First Surgeons to Use Cutting-Edge Robotic Surgery Device

Andrea Pakula standing in front of robotic surgery equipment

A St. George’s University School of Medicine alum is making her mark as one of the first surgeons in the country to use a new advanced robotic system to treat her patients, including in emergency care.

Adventist Health Simi Valley Hospital, where Andrea Pakula, MD ’07, MPH ’03, serves as medical director of robotic surgery, is one of only 10 hospitals in the US chosen as a premier access site to receive the da Vinci 5 in its early release phase.

The da Vinci 5 is one of the newest and most advanced surgical robots in its field. Dr. Pakula is one of the first surgeons in the country to use the advanced system, according to a recent news article highlighting the da Vinci 5 and the benefits to patient care.

Dr. Pakula demonstrating using the da Vinci 5

Dr. Pakula demonstrating the da Vinci 5

At Adventist Health Simi Valley, Dr. Pakula is a general and acute care surgeon practicing in all aspects of general surgery including bariatric, foregut, and colon surgery with a passion for hernia repair. Board-certified in both general surgery and surgical critical care, she performs surgeries and procedures entirely with the Intuitive Surgical da Vinci Robotic platform, including in her emergency surgery practice.

The da Vinci 5 allows surgeons to operate with more precision and gives them the ability to perform complex operations through only a few small incisions. This makes for much faster recoveries and return to normal activity for patients without the need for pain medications, Dr. Pakula said.

“This has worked really well for my practice,” Dr. Pakula told Intuitive, the da Vinci 5’s manufacturer. “It’s allowed me to expand minimally invasive surgery to the patients that I see through the emergency room. We’re now able to do minimally invasive surgery any time of day or night, with the same level of care.”

Dr. Pakula sitting with the DaVinci 5 robotic surgery device

In the same interview with Intuitive, Dr. Pakula said that this trend is important because it means that more surgical patients can be managed with an approach that may be less invasive, potentially contributing to fewer complications and shorter hospital stays, compared to open surgery.

Helping patients get back to their lives in the fastest, most painless way possible is Dr. Pakula’s goal and her favorite part of the job.

“I truly enjoy my patients and being able to take part in their care,” Dr. Pakula told SGU News.

An accomplished surgeon at the forefront of the field of robotic surgery, Dr. Pakula reflects on her drive and perseverance to reach where she is today. She credits SGU with helping set her on a path to success, which she capitalized on with her own determination.

“The education I received at SGU allowed me to get into one of the best fellowships in the country, and that drive has stayed with me and allowed me to excel in my career,” said Pakula.


– Juliette Kimmins


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SGU grad named Infectious Diseases Society of America fellow

Jarod Fox, MD '11, FIDSA

St. George’s University School of Medicine graduate, Jarod Fox, MD ’11, FIDSA, is among the 2024 class of distinguished physicians recognized by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

St. George’s University School of Medicine graduate, Jarod Fox, MD, FIDSA, is among the 2024 class of distinguished physicians recognized by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Dr. Fox, who is the chair of the infectious diseases department for Orlando Health and the site director for the infectious diseases group at the institution’s Health Central Hospital in Ocoee, FL, was elected as a Society fellow in May 2024 and honored with the “FIDSA” designation.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized by my colleagues both locally and nationally,” said Dr. Fox.

A fellowship in IDSA is one of the highest honors in the field of infectious diseases. It recognizes professional excellence in and contributions to the field of infectious diseases. Dr. Fox is among 128 IDSA fellows for 2024 who were nominated by their peers and met criteria that included: continuing identification with the field of infectious diseases, national or regional recognition, and publication of scholarly work.

“The 128 individuals chosen to receive the FIDSA designation this year have demonstrated a commitment to advancing ID, and we are proud to honor their work and dedication,” IDSA President Steven K. Schmitt, MD, FIDSA, said in a press release announcing the fellows. “These ID physicians and scientists represent a community of leaders around the globe who are on the front lines of research and clinical care and represent the passion and commitment to educate and protect us from dangerous illness.”

An infectious disease physician specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Doctors who specialize in infectious diseases manage illnesses that affect every body system.

“I have always enjoyed microbiology and infectious diseases specialists are often referred to as the ‘Sherlock Holmes of medicine,’” said Dr. Fox. “We enjoy puzzles and figuring out the cause of a patient’s illness. I look forward to continuing my career in infectious disease for years to come and to mentor the next generation of medical detectives.”

A typical day for an infectious disease physician

A typical day in the hospital for Dr. Fox usually starts with a thorough review of patients’ microbiology labs. He then visits with his patients at their besides, reassuring them of any concerns. He makes any necessary changes to their treatment and strategizes with patients’ other treatment providers. Once a week, Dr. Fox sees patients who have been discharged from the hospital and meets with referrals from other physicians in an outpatient clinic.

“I have had a number of cases that have stuck with me over the years,” Dr. Fox said. “It is satisfying to be a part of a patient’s cure and to see them enjoy life again.”

Dr. Fox does all this and more as faculty member of Orlando Health’s infectious diseases fellowship program. He is also involved in the hospital’s antimicrobial stewardship program and infection prevention activities.

Improving antimicrobial stewardship can involve “restricting certain antibiotics to specific infections, recommendations to stop antibiotics when they are not necessary, and optimizing dosage of antimicrobials to ensure that patients receive the right drug at the right dosage for the right duration to treat their particular infection,” he said.

Career beginnings

Dr. Fox graduated from SGU’s School of Medicine in 2011. From there, he began an internal medicine residency at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, GA, completing it in 2014. He then moved on to an infectious disease fellowship at Orlando Health, which he completed in 2016, formally joining the medical group the following year.

“SGU allowed me the opportunity to learn both the science and art of medicine,” said Dr. Fox, who was born in Sulphur Springs, TX and grew up in Greenville, SC. “I enjoyed my time on the island in Grenada. The faculty on the island gave me my base of medical knowledge and a desire to be a lifelong learner which is required to be an outstanding physician.”

He also appreciated joining SGU’s vast alumni network of over 22,000 physicians. SGU-trained doctors have practiced in numerous specialties across the US and globally.

“For those looking to become a physician, SGU is a great place to learn,” Dr. Fox said. Graduates are “well prepared for whatever field they decide to go into.”



— Laurie Chartorynsky


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·       SGU alum named ‘Attending Physician of the Year’ at UCSD

·       SGU alum shares journey to a fulfilling career in cancer outreach

Meeting a critical demand: 300+ SGU graduates begin residency in NY, NJ

300+ SGU grads start residency in NY + NJ

St. George’s University School of Medicine graduate, Varshitha Tumkur Panduranga, MD ’24, couldn’t wait to start her internal medicine residency at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, NY—her top choice for medical residency.

“During residency, I eagerly anticipate advancing my abilities as a physician, striving to refine both my theoretical understanding and practical skills,” Dr. Panduranga recently said. “Engaging in the intellectually stimulating realm of internal medicine, I aim to master deductive reasoning to deliver optimal care. The hospital where I have matched serves an underserved population and I am [also] eager to work in that environment and make a meaningful impact on their lives.”

Dr. Panduranga is one of the 332 recent SGU graduates who began their postgraduate training at New York- or New Jersey-based hospitals this month. As residents, they will further train in specialties including: internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, family medicine, anesthesiology, ob/gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry, and more. She and her colleagues join nearly 10,000 SGU-trained doctors who have done postgraduate training in area hospitals over the years, according to SGU data as of June 2024.

Committed to communities

As the physician shortage in the US continues to be projected in the tens of thousands, SGU School of Medicine graduates are helping to meet the demand for doctors. For the 10th year in a row, SGU is the largest provider of new doctors to the US healthcare system and is helping address the physician shortage in the US.* Overall, more than 930 newly minted SGU MDs will embark on their intern year of residency training, offering a welcome addition at hospitals around the US.

The breadth of SGU’s impact on the healthcare workforce is none more evident than in New York and New Jersey. Many of the area’s hospital systems are located in communities where the need for doctors, particularly primary care physicians, is significant.

NYC Health + Hospitals, for instance, the largest municipal healthcare system in the country, serves over 1.2 million New Yorkers annually in over 70 locations, including 11 acute-care hospitals across the five boroughs. NYC Health + Hospitals serves some of the most marginalized populations in New York City, according to its 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment Report.

To help combat the physician shortage in the metro-New York area, the CityDoctors Scholarships Program, a partnership between SGU and NYC Health + Hospitals offers SGU med students full- or partial-tuition awards. It is designed to attract and educate students committed to serving in urban hospitals. To date, the CityDoctors program has made a career in medicine possible for more than 80 students, many of whom now practice in the communities in which they were raised.

In New Jersey, the need for primary care physicians is also critical, particularly for family physicians and general internists, according to a January 2024 report from the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. The report supports the notion of advanced primary care teams in New Jersey to ease the physician shortage.

Residents headed beyond the NYC metro areas, such as Barilee Abueh Idemudia, who is starting her internal medicine residency at the University of Buffalo, will also fill a vital need for physicians in New York and New Jersey.

“I am looking forward to making a meaningful impact on patient care, gaining hands-on experience, and honing my clinical skills while being a doctor my patient needs,” Dr. Idemudia said.


SGU 2024 First-Year Residencies in NY and NJ

Over 300 SGU graduates began their residencies at New York- or New Jersey-based hospitals this month. They join nearly 10,000 SGU-trained doctors who have done postgraduate training in area hospitals over the years, according to SGU data as of June 2024.

Close to home

Many former SGU students also choose to continue their medical training in New York and New Jersey so that they can be closer to home.

“As we have a large number of students who hail from the New York-New Jersey area, many look to continue their education and training in areas where they grew up and have family,” said Dr. Robert Grant, SGU’s senior associate dean for clinical studies. “These newly matched students join a significant number of our alumni who are already practicing and contributing to patient care within the New York and New Jersey healthcare systems. We know they are well prepared and ready for the challenge of residency.”

Kelise Harris, MD ’24, began an anatomical/clinical pathology residency at Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY—not far from her hometown of Mount Vernon, NY.

Starting a residency close to home means Dr. Harris can better understand “what my patients needs are, the common pathologies they may present with, the circumstances that create these pathologies, and the pathways in which they may progress,” she said.

“It is a great feeling to be part of a healthcare system that is local to me and my community,” she added. “You form deeper, meaningful connections with your practice when it’s familiar territory; you no longer work from a place of trying to imagine yourself in someone’s shoes when you can draw from a well of genuine empathy because I am reminded that I am helping my neighbor.”

SGU in collaboration with three New Jersey hospitals—Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, and St. Joseph’s Medical Center—offer an opportunity for incoming med students hailing from New Jersey to practice in their own communities. The SGU CARE Scholarship allows recipients to receive partial, half, or full tuition to attend SGU and then complete their clinical rotations at hospitals near their hometowns.

“I am looking forward to working and continuing to learn the specialty I love, in the community I grew up in, around doctors I shadowed and learned from as a pre-medical and medical student,” said Emily Rienzo, MD ’24, a first-year surgery resident at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and CARE scholarship recipient.

Developing professional relationships

With more than 75 clinical sites available for SGU students to train in the US, UK, and Canada, students have opportunities to develop professional relationships with the clinical faculty who work at these institutions, particularly in New York and New Jersey. These networking opportunities can potentially help lead to a residency position and even employment beyond residency, Dr. Grant added.

“Having completed most of my clinical rotations at St. Joseph’s Hospital, I am particularly excited about joining their team of phenomenal physicians,” said Justin Eadeh, MD ’24, a PGY-1 emergency medicine resident at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, NJ. “Their dedication to teaching and fostering a supportive learning environment is something I witnessed firsthand, and I am eager to further develop my skills under their mentorship. Additionally, the familial culture they uphold resonates deeply with me, and I am thrilled to become a part of such a close-knit community.”

Following residency training, SGU-trained doctors will become “a well-known and highly capable pool of physicians,” noted Dr. Grant. “They are the kind of doctors—predominantly primary care physicians—that these communities need.”


*As the medical school graduating the largest number of students per year, SGU places the largest number of graduates into residency programs each year, based on internal SGU graduate/expected graduate and residency placement data as of March 2024.


— Laurie Chartorynsky


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SGU’s Class of 2024: School of Medicine Honors the Perseverance of New MD Grads at Commencement

In a wave of excitement and anticipation for their burgeoning careers in medicine, newly minted doctors eagerly accepted their diplomas during St. George’s University School of Medicine’s 43rd commencement ceremony.

Proud families and friends looked on as their loved ones walked across the stage during two ceremonies held on June 1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY for the Class of 2024.

SGU Chancellor Charles R. Modica commended the students during his remarks.

“You had every reason not to succeed,” he said, referring to the challenges that they experienced during their medical education due to the global pandemic. “But you chose to persevere. You showed great resilience. You believed in yourselves, and your family and friends supported you. One of the greatest thrills and honors of my life will be to hand you a diploma and address you as ‘doctor’.”

Experience the joy, celebration, and overwhelming pride of new graduates at the 2024 SOM Commencement. View the reel!

School of Medicine Dean Marios Loukas also acknowledged the many obstacles that the students overcame to receive their MDs.

“Today we recognize your hard work, your dedication, and your unwavering spirit,” said Dr. Loukas. “Each and every one of you is an inspiration. Medicine is not merely a profession. It is a noble pursuit and calling to serve humanity and alleviate suffering. Congratulations graduates the world awaits—go forth and make us proud.”

The Class of 2024 joins a network of more than 22,000 alumni in the United States and around the world. This summer, 930+ graduates will begin residency programs in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, securing positions in over 20 specialties.

This also marks the 10th consecutive year in which SGU has been the largest provider of new doctors to first-year US postgraduate residencies.*

Did you miss the ceremonies? View SOM Commencement on YouTube


* As the medical school graduating the largest number of students per year, SGU places the largest number of graduates into residency programs each year, based on internal SGU graduate/expected graduate and residency placement data as of March 2024.

– Ray-Donna Peters


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37 Aspiring Physicians Inducted into Gold Humanism Honor Society at 2024 Ceremony

Group photo of 2024 GHHS inductees

Thirty-seven St. George’s University School of Medicine students were recently inducted into the prestigious Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), pledging to put compassionate care and human connection at the center of their careers. This year’s ceremony took place on May 31 in New York City.

Established by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 2002, the goal of GHHS is to foster and incorporate humanism in medical education. Over 160 medical schools have a GHHS chapter, awarding thousands of students with honors.

Since the inception of SGU’s chapter of GHHS in 2005, the organization has recognized medical students, resident physicians, and physician educators who demonstrate excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion, and dedication to service. Students inducted into the GHHS are in the top 10 percent of their class and often involved in community service.

“We are here to celebrate your induction into this honor society and to pause and be reminded of some powerful ingredients in the delivery of excellent patient care—namely, compassion and connection with the human spirit,” Dr. Toni Liggins, associate dean of clinical studies and GHHS faculty advisor, said at the ceremony. “We hope to inspire and develop life-long advocates for patient-centered care following graduation from SGU.”

Two graduating chapter members—Sadik Uddin, MD ’24, and Hiranya S, MD ’24 (expected)—were chosen to speak at the ceremony. “Impact of Humanism,” delivered by Dr. Uddin, outlined the chapter’s successes, celebrated the new members, and explained more about the chapters’ projects. Hiranya gave the “Go Forth and Do Good” speech, which underscored the importance of constructive social change through living the values of compassion, empathy, and integrity.

Putting words into action

Each of this year’s inductees will choose one of three ongoing, student-led service projects within the SGU chapter. The goal of project participation is for students to interact with medical education in new ways and to go beyond participation in a one-time service project. The student projects are as follows:

Medical Humanities, team leads Clara Keum and Kendra Butler

This project is a social media initiative meant to encourage reflection and discussion among medical students about mental health, physician burnout, death and grief, stereotyping, and other related issues.

Suicide and Mental Health Awareness, team leads Danielle Lombardo and Priya Atodaria

Those who partake in this project participate in walks, both virtual and in person, that are sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) with the goal of raising awareness and funds for the cause.

Reach Out and Read (ROR), team leads Daniel Grunberg and Cynthia Gutierrez Luna

In contributing to the mission of Reach Out and Read, a national organization, students get involved by reading to children in person, prerecording videos to share, donating books, or fundraising money to buy books. The project focuses on children with limited access to books, many belonging to historically marginalized communities.

Beginning a career of compassion

Dr. Robert Grant, senior associate dean of clinical studies, emphasized that with the privilege of practicing medicine comes the great responsibility to maintain compassion, strong ethics, and empathy. He believes this recognition should be viewed as an introduction to a career where the values of Gold Humanism are at the forefront.

“Induction into the Gold Humanism Honor Society is not merely an honor but validates your commitment to remain as an exemplar of compassionate care and humanism always,” Dr. Grant said. “The continuous bond of trust, respect and communication is the foundation for—and the responsibility we hold dear—as doctors.”


list of the 2024 GHHS inductees


–Juliette Kimmins



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Match Day 2024: Grenadian SGU Student Secures Highly Competitive US Residency Position

What does it feel like to match into residency? Just ask St. George’s University medical student Toya Ameda, BSc ’21. Toya, who hails from Grenada, secured a highly competitive residency in the United States in interventional radiology. She is one of 930 soon-to-be graduates of SGU to secure US postgraduate residencies in the 2024 match cycle.

“As you can imagine, the match process was both nerve-wracking and incredibly fulfilling,” said Toya, who is expected to graduate next week from SGU’s School of Medicine. “Finding out that I matched felt surreal. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders, as I now had confirmation that I would actually be an interventional radiologist.”

In July, Toya will be relocating to Miami, FL to begin her career as a preliminary surgery resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She will then transition to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA to start her integrated interventional radiology residency in 2025.



At the Forefront of Medical Treatment

Match Day is a monumental occasion for all aspiring doctors—the moment they discover where they are going for residency training and what specialty they will be entering.

SGU students matched into at least 22 specialties this year, including highly competitive positions in fields such as: anesthesiology, vascular surgery, urology, and Toya’s chosen field of interventional radiology— a medical sub-specialty of radiology utilizing minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system.

One of the reasons why an interventional radiology residency is seen as so competitive is the rapid pace of technological advancement in this field. Interventional radiologists must stay up to date on the latest imaging techniques and treatment options and be skilled at using complex equipment like CT scanners and fluoroscopes.

Toya chose interventional radiology as her specialty because she believes it is a revolutionary medical field—offering minimally invasive treatments to patients from routine procedures to lifesaving ones.

“Its incorporation of the latest technologies and innovative techniques ensures that patients receive the most innovative advances in treatment without having to opt for the traditional invasive route,” she said.

Dr. John Madden, director of SGU’s Office of Career Guidance and a former faculty member at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, was thrilled to learn that Toya matched into the university’s interventional radiology residency program.

“She will be part of a very large and prestigious healthcare system in the Philadelphia region,” said Dr. Madden. “I know from personal experience at this academic center that she will be joining fellow residents and staff who are at the cutting edge of medical procedures and has the potential to become a world class interventional radiologist.”

SGU Alumni Support

Many students rejoiced and breathed a sigh of relief on Match Day 2024. For Toya, she is forever grateful to her mentor and SGU alum, Sumeet Bahl, MD ’13, and couldn’t imagine not having him guiding her through the process.

As someone who had been in Toya’s shoes vying for a residency spot in the same specialty, Dr. Bahl is now a practicing interventional radiologist at The Brooklyn Hospital Center and one of her biggest champions.

“I saw the fire in her as soon as I met her,” Dr. Bahl said. “She had incredible board scores, was well-spoken, and showed up for everything. She was called to one of the most competitive fields in medicine. There are very few black women in our field, let alone international medical graduates. This is a huge deal for the field, women in medicine, and her country.”


A Daughter of the Soil

From as far back as she could remember, it seemed Toya, who grew up in New Hampshire, St. George’s, desired academic greatness. In 2015, she garnered public recognition of her scholastic prowess by winning the Grenada Brain Bee Challenge, while attending St. Joseph’s Convent (SJC), St. George’s.

Two years later, Toya brought home the coveted Alan A. La Grenade Shield Award to SJC and promptly topped that a year later, when she was honored at the National Youth Awards ceremony for academic excellence.

Toya’s academic dominance led her straight to SGU, where after becoming one of Grenada’s prestigious Island Scholars she was awarded a scholarship to attend the University in 2019. She enrolled as a premedical student in SGU’s five-year MD pathway and two years later graduated from the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) with a bachelor’s degree in medical sciences.

“From the moment she arrived on campus, Toya has been impressing us all with her outstanding academic abilities,” praised Dr. Lucy Eugene, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “As a graduate of SAS, we are extremely proud of Toya and all that she has accomplished so far. Her accomplishments can be an inspiration to our students and speak to all that is possible with hard work and dedication. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the soon-to-be Dr. Ameda.”

The Journey to Future Dr. Ameda

Practicing medicine was not always the goal for Toya. She originally wanted to be a veterinarian.

“It wasn’t until my late teens that I recognized the need for improved healthcare in Grenada and felt that my calling was instead human medicine,” shared Toya.

The journey to making that dream come true began with her decision to apply to SGU as a premedical student. By choosing SGU, Toya felt that it made sense not only because she is Grenadian, but she would also get to remain close to home, while still receiving an international education encompassing academic excellence and a rich, multicultural environment.

Another benefit for Toya was that she also received SGU’s Grenadian Scholarship Award.

“I am incredibly grateful to have received this scholarship,” said Toya. “It has allowed me to pursue my studies without worrying about tuition and provided additional benefits that greatly enhanced my medical school experience.”

During her time at SGU, Toya immersed herself in several extracurricular activities and student clubs. She was a part of the Iota Epsilon Alpha (IEA) International Honor Society and Women in Medicine (WIM) student organization while on island, where she had the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community.

“I couldn’t imagine another medical school experience other than my time at SGU,” stated Toya. “One of my greatest accomplishments was conducting the mini-health fairs in Grenada that I pioneered during my clinical years. I worked with the Grenada Government’s Ministry of Health to reach the wider community and recruited first and second year SGU medical students to participate. I felt honored to give back to my Grenadian community and can’t wait to continue doing so on an even bigger scale.”

With a highly competitive residency position secured, the future Dr. Ameda said she ultimately hopes to practice interventional radiology in Grenada.

“This will allow me to help Grenadians and other Caribbean nationals gain access to advanced healthcare without having to travel abroad,” said Toya. “Until then, I plan on being a part of global health initiatives like RAD-AID, a nonprofit public radiology service that delivers life-changing healthcare to underserved communities worldwide.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SGU White Coat Ceremony 2024: April Start Med Students Take Oath of Professionalism

St. George’s University recently welcomed its April class of medical students at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, held on May 4 at Patrick F. Adams Hall. The future physicians were cheered on by family and friends as they donned their white coats, marking their entry into the medical profession.



After being coated—often by family members or mentors who have become doctors before them—the students then recited the Oath of Professionalism, where they pledged to honor the sacred trust and privilege society places on medical professionals while treating their patients.

Wondering what it’s like to be coated? Hear from four aspiring physicians on what it felt like to experience the momentous event.


“Getting this white coat marks a huge accomplishment for me. There’s been years of steps to get here, and I feel like this is a solidifying moment for me to actually have this coat. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do right out of high school. But I spent some time getting some experience as a nursing assistant. Since then, I fell in love with medicine and knew I wanted to be a physician.”

– Jonathan Koger
North Carolina


“I’m a first generation medical student and I feel like I really made my parents proud to be here today. Putting on my white coat, I feel like it’s a rite of passage to me becoming an amazing physician one day.”

– Duaa Anwar


“Being coated is definitely symbolic and means a lot to me. It signals that I’m ready to take on this journey. Previously, I had worked as a scribe and there I met several alumni that became my mentors and recommended I apply to SGU. These mentors helped me along my path and showed me what it really meant to put on the white coat. Just seeing those patient-physician encounters and seeing how helpful and how empathetic they were—I hope to be that type of doctor in the future.” 

– Derek Stubbs


“This is just the first step in a long road, but I know I can make it. Putting on this white coat means that I’m starting a profession that I believe in. I come from a large family of physicians and veterinarians. So, following this dream is what I’ve always aspired to do. It’s what I’ve seen my father do and what I’ve seen my grandfather do.”

– Rhiannon Gillett



   – Ray-Donna Peters

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The Legacy Lives On: SGU Alums and Brothers Witness their Children Match into Residency

The Rienzo family standing with a sunset in the background at their White Coat Ceremony

(from left to right) Francis Rienzo, MD ’88; Emily Rienzo, MD ’24 (expected); Jake Rienzo, MD ’24 (expected); and Peter Rienzo, MD ’85

When brothers Francis Rienzo, MD ’88, and Peter Rienzo, MD ’85, began their medical school journeys at St. George’s University School of Medicine, who could have predicted that both their children would also become doctors thanks to SGU?

This year marked another successful Match Day for SGU with over 930 soon-to-be grads matching into US postgraduate residencies including Francis’ daughter, Emily Rienzo, MD ’24 (expected), and Peter’s son, Jake Rienzo, MD ’24 (expected).

For the Rienzos, who are New Jersey natives, having multiple family members in the medical field is not only significant, but highly sentimental. Choosing to follow in their fathers’ footsteps at the same institution is deeply meaningful to Jake and Emily Rienzo.

“Knowing that I’ll be continuing the legacy of my father, both by attending the same medical school and pursuing a career in anesthesiology, fills me with an indescribable sense of pride,” said Jake Rienzo, who matched at HMH Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “There’s a palpable sense of pride in carrying on the family legacy, knowing that I am continuing the tradition of service and healing that has been passed down through generations.”

Emily Rienzo, who matched in general surgery at HMH Jersey Shore University Medical Center, feels similarly.

“I was familiar with SGU from a very young age as I grew up hearing stories about my dad and uncle’s time in Grenada,” she said. “I visited my dad’s office fairly frequently and always heard stories from his patients raving about him, his medical knowledge, and his bedside manner. I believe that SGU played a big role in this, and as pre-med, I was confident SGU could provide the same for me.”

A Family Affair

The connections do not end at just attending the same medical school for the Rienzos. Jake Rienzo matched into the same specialty that his father practices. Additionally, Emily Rienzo matched into her first-choice hospital, which is the same hospital where her father completed his residency and internship. The cousins will be together for a period during each of their residencies.

“Being Jake’s co-resident for five months will be fun since the anesthesia program rotates through surgery!” said Emily Rienzo.

Emily Rienzo, also an SGU CARE Scholarship recipient (formerly called CityDoctors in New Jersey) through Jersey Shore University Medical Center, is the first female physician in four generations of doctors in her family.

Francis and Emily Rienzo on match day

Francis and Emily Rienzo, an SGU CARE Scholarship recipient, celebrated her match.

On her Match Day success, her father, Francis Rienzo, said, “I could not be prouder and happier for my daughter… I am truly excited and cannot wait for her to start her journey as a surgical resident.”

Happiness and celebration rippled through the family.

Jake Rienzo expressed his excitement on Match Day, “As I opened the email, I felt a rush of emotions—joy, anticipation, and a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Jake Rienzo’s father, Peter, expressed his sincere elation for Jake carrying on the family’s medical legacy as a fourth-generation physician and second-generation anesthesiologist.

“From the moment I heard the news, a smile has been etched on my face, a smile that refuses to fade even after a week has passed. Knowing that he’s chosen a path so integral to our family’s history fills me with a sense of fulfillment that’s hard to articulate,” Peter Rienzo said.

These feelings were the culmination of years of dedication and support from their families.

“My MD journey has been a remarkable and transformative experience, marked by moments of profound learning, personal growth, and unwavering determination. From the first day of medical school to the culmination of Match Day, each step along the way has shaped me into the physician I am today. As I reflect on my MD journey, I am filled with gratitude for the countless individuals who have guided and inspired me along the way,” especially his dad, said Jake Rienzo.

Jake and Peter Rienzo celebrating match

Peter and Jake Rienzo celebrating Jake’s match.

SGU and the Rienzo Legacy

Both generations of the Rienzos expressed gratitude for SGU and its larger community of faculty and alumni for making them physicians. The Rienzos hope that the connection to the University will live on. “My younger brother is looking to attend veterinary school at SGU, although I’m trying to push him toward medicine!” said Emily Rienzo.

“My grandfather, father, and uncle were all physicians, and SGU gave my brother and me the opportunity to become successful physicians and now it is allowing my daughter and nephew to follow in our footsteps and continue the family legacy,” Francis Rienzo said. “I cannot thank Dr. Charles Modica and all of SGU enough for everything they have done.”

Jake Rienzo is immensely grateful for the role that SGU has played in shaping his family’s legacy in medicine.

“Its dedication to educational excellence, supportive community, and opportunities for professional growth have laid the groundwork for my journey as a physician that I may have missed out on had I not attended SGU,” he said.


— Juliette Kimmins




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Back to School: 47 SGU Alumni Return to Grenada for CME Conference

This March, nearly 50 alumni from St. George’s University School of Medicine returned to the True Blue campus and to the island where for many, it all began. Hosted by the SOM Alumni Association (SOMAA), SGU graduates came back to attend the 2024 Art of Medicine continuing medical education (CME) conference.

During the four-day event, held in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), participants had the opportunity to learn about new advancements across the medical landscape, while earning up to 16 CME credits. SGU grads also had a chance to reunite with classmates and faculty, while making connections with future inductees (students) into the 22,000-member alumni network.

“As a single event, this SOMAA CME conference consistently accomplishes several key success objectives,” said Dr. Brendon La Grenade, vice provost for Institutional Advancement and head of Alumni Affairs. “It provides an avenue for our alumni to reconnect with this island and this institution where it all began; it allows them to connect with current students who are inspired by their stories of success; and it gives them a chance to network with fellow alumni, strengthening this outstanding community of 22,000 strong and growing—all while sharing and enhancing their medical education.”



Alumni and Students Connect

The Alumni/Student Speed Networking event was a highlight of the CME conference this year, giving Term 4 and 5 SOM students the opportunity to connect with alumni, many of whom are top specialists in their fields.

Students had the chance to establish professional relationships with returning alumni and ask questions about their journeys to a career in medicine, opening avenues for the returning physicians to share their insights about the rigors of the profession.

“I love attending events like these because you get to talk to an actual SGU alum in person,” said Emilee Atkins, a Term 5 SOM student. “This is someone who has been in my shoes and can offer valuable insight on what’s going to come and some good advice on how to tackle it. This is beneficial not only now as I’m about to start my clinical years, but also later when I’m applying for residency.”

Wondering what this year’s CME conference was like? Check out the photos to see what you missed.


  • The seventh annual SOMAA CME grew in participation since last year, with 85 attendees, 47 of whom were SGU alumni, as well as 11 Grenadian physicians who practice locally.

  • Alumni received a warm welcome from Vice Provost Brendon La Grenade; SOM Dean Marios Loukas; Grenada’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Phillip Telesford; and Provost Glen Jacobs (from left to right).

  • Joseph Allen, MD ’90, was happy to reunite with Dean C.V. Rao and SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83.

  • Conference attendees were able to purchase a variety of SGU and SOM Alumni Association memorabilia.

  • A highlight of the four-day conference was the Alumni/Student Speed Networking event, which allowed the visiting physicians to share some words of advice with current medical students.

  • Proud alumnae, Alena Wade, MD ’06 and Katusha Cornwall-Griffith, MD ’11 were the event’s co-hosts.

  • Learning strategist, Jessica Milner, MD ’22, came back to Grenada to work in the Department of Educational Services here at SGU. She shared that the reason she returned was to give back to the community that gave her the chance to pursue her dreams.

  • Year 4 SOM student, Folarin Adeyemi was eager to have his questions answered, especially since finding out he recently matched into a general surgery residency.

  • For conference-goers, their time in Grenada wasn’t only about lectures and education. The SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities to experience a taste of culture and hospitality on the island many called home during their studies.


– Ray-Donna Peters

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Match Day 2024: 8 SGU Students Secure Residency Positions in Canada Through CaRMS Match

Alexandra Robertson

Eight St. George’s University students will be joining the healthcare system in Canada this summer with MDs at the end of their names.

Eight St. George’s University students will be joining the healthcare system in Canada this summer with MDs at the end of their names, having matched into competitive residency programs through the first iteration of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) R-1 Main Residency Match.

Students matched into residency programs in four Canadian provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario. More SGU students are expected to earn residency positions in the second Canadian Match iteration on April 25.

“We are extremely proud of our students for matching into competitive programs across the country,” said Jibran Vahidy, SGU’s director of admissions and partnerships, Canada. “These students will join hundreds of other SGU alumni who have returned to Canada to pursue their medical careers. We acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments, as well as the positive impact they will have on communities as well-rounded, caring, and competent physicians.”

Dr. Alexandra Robertson, MD ’23, felt a combination of relief, excitement and “pure joy” upon learning that she matched into an internal medicine residency at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Robertson, who hails from Edmonton, Alberta, is looking forward to returning home to practice medicine and to “continue to grow both as a doctor and as a person as I navigate whatever new challenges residency brings.”

“My journey in medicine at SGU has taken me from the United Kingdom, to Grenada, and across the United States and Canada. I have been enriched by being exposed to many different healthcare systems, electronic medical records, teaching environments, team structures, cultures, and patient populations. I have had the good fortune of being able to make deep and meaningful connections with mentors and friends along the way,” Dr. Roberston said. “The path is difficult but rewarding for those who are willing to go on an adventure!”

On March 15, more than 930 SGU students and graduates secured post-graduate residencies at health centers around the United States in the 2024 match cycle. Visit our 2024 residency listing page for a complete list of SGU physicians who will begin their residencies this summer.



– Laurie Chartorynsky and Juliette Kimmins



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