UMass Medical School celebrates largest match ever with 127 residencies for the Class of 2017

Dreams come true for Okwara, Dowd and classmates; 52 percent entering primary care

By Sandra Gray and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

March 17, 2017

Match Day 2017 saw the largest match in UMass Medical School history, with 127 students from the School of Medicine Class of 2017 assigned to residencies through the National Resident Matching Program, including 66 in primary care.

Match Day is always a day of celebration at UMMS and the event on Friday, March 17, was no exception. When the fourth-year students simultaneously opened their envelopes at noon sharp, there was an instant outburst of hugs and congratulations from family, friends and faculty, confirming the success of the match.

“We had an exceptional match,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins in his welcome remarks. His prediction that “most of you will be very pleased when you open your enveloped” proved true.

The match included 66 students in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics, representing 52 percent of the class. That figure included a record 18 students in family medicine. There were also eight students in emergency medicine and seven in obstetrics & gynecology. Fifty-five members of the class are staying in Massachusetts, including 26 at UMMS, fulfilling the medical school’s mission to care for the citizens of the commonwealth.

While sharing the moment together is a longstanding tradition at UMMS, every match is an individual milestone in each student’s unique path to a career in medicine.

Chioma Okwara’s journey began while she was still living in Kenya, when her 9-year-old brother was in a car accident and died due to lack of medical care. It accelerated when her parents brought her and her four remaining siblings to the United States in 2007, when she was 16 years old.

“I didn’t choose medicine, it chose me,” said Okwara. “The hope that I can help others has sustained me.”

Adjusting to the American education system was challenging, but with support during her undergraduate years at UMass Boston, Okwara realized her dream of entering UMass Medical School. Today she was elated that she will begin her internal medicine residency at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, her first choice.

“I am so grateful,” was all she could utter amidst the shouts of joy from family and friends, including her dancing mother and beaming father.

Springfield native and UMass Amherst graduate Andrew Dowd took a very different path to UMMS, working as a professional photographer before beginning medical training. He melded photography with his medical school experience by taking pictures of his classmates throughout the four years, culminating in publication of his hardcover book MED SCHOOL: Photographs and Stories from Inside. In this collection of images and stories, candid and portrait photographs are accompanied by emotional, first-hand accounts from the students pictured.

“I wanted to give students a chance to reflect on their experience. I wanted others to see that reflection,” said Dowd. “I wanted to give people on the outside a glimpse of what goes on within these walls.”

Dowd will begin his residency in emergency medicine close to home at UMass Medical School in Worcester, as he and his family hoped for. He and his wife shared tears of joy with their 7-year-old son, who opened the envelope for his father.

Hear more from Dowd in the video and visit the UMass Medical School Facebook page to see a full video Match Day.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Home sweet home for UMass Medical School’s Waldo Zamor on Match Day

  • Jessica Long waits anxiously for noon, when students would simultaneously open their envelopes to discover where they will serve their residencies.   Long will be a resident in obstetrics & gynecology at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
  • Matthew Spring will be a resident in internal medicine at Boston University Medical Center.
  • Xingyue Wang antes up her dollar in exchange for her Match envelope. Wang will begin her residency in family medicine at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle in June.
  • Chioma Okwara celebrates her match at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital with her father.
  • Kristen Richard, right, celebrates with her family as she shares the news she’ll be a resident in pediatrics at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
  • Anouch Matevossian is interviewed by Worcester News Tonight.  Matevossian will be a resident in internal medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
  • Caroline Bancroft learns she’ll be a resident in pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
  • Chancellor Michael F. Collins celebrates with students and their families at Match Day 2017.  Collins served his residency in internal medicine at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.
  • Kern Bayard, SOM ’88, with his daughters, Micaela, SOM ’12, and Solange, who will be a resident in general surgery at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York.

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