The Class of 2021: Profiles of Some of UVM’s Newest Med Students

August 15, 2017 by Jennifer Nachbur

Each of the 119 students in the Class of 2017 earned a very selective spot – they were chosen from a pool that began with 5,857 applicants, among which 617 were interviewed. Get to know a few of the students in the Larner College of Medicine’s Class of 2021.

On August 7, the newest medical students in the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont began their journey on the path to becoming doctors. With their first course – Orientation – under their belts, they’re now digging into the Foundations of Clinical Science course, which continues until mid-December.

Each of the 119 students in the Class of 2017 earned a very selective spot – they were chosen from a pool that began with 5,857 applicants, among which 617 were interviewed. Roughly a third of the class – 33 total – are Vermonters, and 86 are from out of state, representing Tennessee, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maine, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Connecticut, New York, Utah, New Hampshire, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Most members of the class majored in science (77 percent), but 23 percent of the class had non-science majors, ranging from anthropology to political science to global studies and theater. Collectively, members of the class speak 22 languages.

Get to know a few of the students in the Larner College of Medicine’s Class of 2021, below:

Cycling as a Way of Life

Class of 2021 medical student Jordan Munger graduated from UVM in 2015 Summa Cum Laude with a degree in biological sciences. While he knew medicine was in his future, cycling was in his blood. He managed to complete a couple of long distance bike rides while still at UVM, but it wasn’t until May of this year that he embarked on a true expedition – a three-month cross-country cycling trip, for which he and a friend – self-dubbed “The Freedom Riders” – cycled through nine states from Yorktown, Va., to Astoria, Ore.

The grandson of a pathologist who inspired his interest in clinical science and healing, Munger worked as an EMT in high school, performed lab research and interned with the Chief Medical Examiner as an undergraduate, and worked as a clinical research assistant for New York’s Mount Sinai Health System before embarking on his “Virginia to Oregon by Bike” trek. Munger describes the impetus for the cycling expedition as “building on our belief in the power of bicycles as a form of personal transportation that strengthens individuals and unifies communities” on his blog.

In a reflection about his “journey of a lifetime,” Munger mentioned these take-away lessons: “that no amount of planning, pumping, or fidgeting could ever have prepared us for” their daily adventures; a better understanding of “need vs. want in our everyday lives;” and that making sacrifices can result in receiving intangible rewards. “In the end, it is the journey, not the destination, that we will remember,” said Munger.

Training for Medicine as a Couple

Class of 2021 medical students Candice and Seth Wolf met while undergraduates at Atlanta, Georgia’s Morehouse and Spellman Colleges during a summer pre-medical internship program. Both developed an interest in medicine as middle schoolers – Candice, due to a medical condition that required a lot of health care appointments in her hometown of Atlanta, and Seth, following an internship at his native Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. By senior year, the two had become a couple, decided to pursue master’s degrees in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University together, and get married. Then they spent the next two years conducting pediatric medical research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, but when they went to apply to medical school as a couple, they met some challenges.

The couple give kudos to their Johns Hopkins program director, whose creativity led to committee letters that supported their joint application to medical school and led to secondary applications. The essays provided an opportunity for them to showcase themselves as a team and drive home the importance of teamwork in success. Sometimes they had to go even further, like when one received an interview and the other didn’t, to advocate for both of them to interview together. In the end, says Seth, “We were fortunate enough to receive several interviews that we both attended,” including the Larner College of Medicine at UVM, where they say they felt most welcomed.

Kindergarten and Med School

First-year medical students and roommates Stephanie Udawatta and Cinduja Nathan first met through the Larner Class of 2021 Facebook page - kind of.

At the start of March, Nathan began looking for roommates in anticipation of her move to Vermont this summer. Noting that Udawatta was in the same class, had similar interests, and appeared to share her living preferences, Nathan reached out. After deciding to become roommates, the women began the standard "Getting to Know Your New Roommate" conversation and discovered that they had both grown up in Folsom, California. Udawatta, tickled by the coincidence, started flipping through her old Golden Gate Elementary School Yearbook, and found that they'd begun their first year of school together in kindergarten. Now, 17 years later, they are starting their first year of medical school in the same class.

Link to a photo gallery from the Class of 2021’s Orientation here.