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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