Larner Welcomes Class of 2027 Medical Students

On August 7, 2023, the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont welcomed 124 new medical students in the Class of 2027 to campus. 

The new cohort of future physicians embark on their journey in medicine amid the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race-conscious admissions programs in higher education. This ruling prohibits schools from considering an applicant‘s race in admissions, emphasizing the importance of a holistic admissions process to foster diversity. Prior to this decision, a multitude of studies and articles emphasized the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially within the medical profession. Many leading medical associations, including the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Association (AMA), in conjunction with well-reviewed studies, recognize the positive impact of diversity among health professionals and a corresponding link to improved access to health care, enhanced quality for underserved populations, and better responsiveness to the needs of a diverse society. The newest Larner medical students now face a challenging reality that they must navigate this unfamiliar landscape with determination and resilience.

Larner Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., addressed these and related issues in his welcome message to the incoming medical students. “We are here to educate a diverse group of dedicated physicians and biomedical scientists to serve across all the disciplines of medicine,” he said, adding, “Here, you will find yourself in an environment where each of us is personally invested in your success—not only as a medical student, but as a future doctor.”

Leila Amiri, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions, echoed Page’s message. “You were hand-selected out of thousands of applicants,” she said. “You were chosen because your personal mission, ethos, and values aligned closely with ours here at the Larner College of Medicine. And we are going to hold you to that standard, the same way we hold ourselves to that standard.”

New med students with Cow in a doctors uniform and Dean Page greeting them in a lecture hall

Welcoming the Class of 2027 to the Larner College of Medicine

Navigating the Path to Becoming Compassionate Health Care Professionals

From August 7 to 11, the first-year University of Vermont (UVM) medical students participated in Orientation—the first course of the Foundations level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum. Throughout the week, each day was filled with engaging activities and exercises aimed at acquainting the students with the various aspects of their upcoming journey. From exploring the college’s facilities and cutting-edge technology to meeting esteemed faculty, staff, and classmates, the Class of 2027 members received a comprehensive orientation about the Larner College of Medicine’s educational experience. A special highlight was the “First Patient Simulation” exercise, a cherished tradition during which students encounter their “first patient” under the guidance of Chair of Pediatrics and University of Vermont Children’s Hospital Chief Lewis First, M.D., M.S. The week provided a perfect blend of preparation, connection, and excitement for the future physicians.

The new medical students were also placed in their Professionalism, Communication, and Reflection (PCR) course groups and met with their respective group advisors. PCR is a year-long course featuring small, process-oriented discussion groups guided by experienced faculty preceptors. Students explore a wide range of important themes, such as professionalism, self-awareness, personal well-being, effective communication with peers, colleagues, and patients, and the social, ethical, and economic aspects of medicine. The course, which emphasizes the development of emotional intelligence, includes thought-provoking discussions and is designed to nurture well-rounded and empathetic future physicians equipped with the skills and values needed to navigate the complexities of the medical field.

New med students working in the community gardens

Students from the Class of 2027 actively engaged in community service at Burlington's Starr Farm Gardens

Fostering Community Engagement and Cultural Awareness

Another highlight of Orientation week was the seamlessly integrated community service and wellness activities. The Class of 2027 assisted local partners in Burlington, performing such tasks as mulching, fence repair, and painting identification signage at the Starr Farm Community Garden and Intervale Center. They also engaged in volunteer initiatives at the Howard Center and Fletcher Free Library, underscoring a commitment to creating a positive impact beyond the classroom.

Each year, the curriculum on the Wednesday of Orientation Week centers on social justice, health care equity, and diversity. These sessions are organized and led by the Larner Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Before starting classes, students must complete the Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®), a research-based assessment of intercultural competence. Upon completing the IDI®, students receive a personalized plan to enhance their cultural humility and development throughout medical school and beyond. Tiffany Delaney, M.A.Ed., Larner’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, emphasizes that acquiring these skills is crucial not only for interacting within their class cohort but also for their future roles as physicians serving diverse patient populations.

Headshots of four new med students

Meet the Class of 2027

Students in the Class of 2027 were selected from a pool of more than 8,500 applicants. Just over a quarter of the new med students are Vermonters and 24 percent identify as LGBTQ+. In addition, 24 percent of UVM’s newest medical students are people underrepresented in medicine—referred to in higher education as “URiM”—a category that includes African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino/a, and Native American/Alaskan Native. The student body draws from 26 states, excluding Vermont, and two Canadian provinces.

Headshot of Cliff Bauman

Cliff Bauman

Cliff Bauman, originally from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, found a natural fit with Larner’s commitment to social justice and patient-centered care. Yet, his story runs deeper. Cliff battled substance use disorder and overcame significant personal struggles to arrive at his true purpose.

In his youth and early adulthood, Bauman faced isolation and turned to substance use as a way to cope. This path led him through several setbacks, including expulsions and premature independence. His challenges continued during college, and he found himself grappling with self-doubt and a lack of motivation. A turning point came when he connected with a Vermont psychiatrist who urged him to confront his addiction head-on, which set Bauman on a path of recovery, one that tested his strength and fueled his passion for medicine.

“During my junior year in college, I hit a low point,” he recalled. “It wasn’t the dramatic rock bottom you see in movies. I had a place to stay, no major health problems, and I didn’t go hungry. But I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of apathy, self-doubt, and despair. Staring at myself in the mirror, I felt lost. At a crossroads, I couldn’t continue relying on substances, yet the idea of giving up was equally terrifying.”

Based on his personal experiences, Bauman is committed to providing compassionate care that recognizes the vital link between physical and mental well-being. He also hopes to apply the knowledge he gained from his working at a community health center to address barriers to medical care. Through empathy and a dedication to holistic healing, Bauman aims to make a meaningful impact both within his peer group and in the lives of future patients.

Marie Lim

Marie Lim’s journey to medical school was far from typical. Though her roots are in Seattle, Washington, she spent a significant part of her life living in the Philippines. Despite the distance, her pursuit of pre-med studies brought her back to the U.S. and ultimately to the Larner College of Medicine.

Lim says Larner’s duality struck a chord with her. Despite being one of the oldest medical institutions in the nation, she admired Larner’s commitment to innovation. The school’s willingness to push boundaries resonated deeply with her. A ballerina, a researcher, and a climber of Mount Kilimanjaro, Lim brings a diverse skill set to her medical journey. As she transitions into her role as a medical student, she expects the discipline and collaboration she relied on in ballet will easily translate into helpful tools for her career in medicine.

“Every dancer has their own strength,” Lim explained. “In creating a successful performance, various skills and talents must come together perfectly to showcase a diverse set of technical ballet skills. This is very similar to medicine, and especially surgery, where a combination of interdisciplinary skills come together by way of teamwork and collaboration between medical and health care professionals, to provide the best possible care for patients,” she added.
Headshot of Marie Lim

Ranya Moshashaian Asl

Ranya Moshashaian Asl

Ranya Moshashaian Asl’s journey reflects unwavering dedication to immigrant rights. Starting in Ahwaz, Iran, she pursued an educational path to the United States, obtaining a BS in Neuroscience from UCLA and a master's degree in Translational Biotechnology from USC. Her experience underscores the impact of intersecting identities, a theme that often shapes our perspectives and life encounters.

Raised by parents who deeply valued education, Asl’s father, a pharmacist, overcame barriers in Iran, advocating for the Ahwazi Arabs, an indigenous ethnic minority in Iran’s predominantly Persian population. Her mother, a dentist, shared the same passion for learning. Asl’s upbringing fueled her determination to succeed, prompting her to leave her family and embrace new challenges in the U.S.

In the U.S., Asl had limited support from a handful of relatives. However, assimilation wasn't her only challenge. In addition to her studies, she served as a caregiver to her ailing grandparent. Amid these responsibilities, she faced the devastating loss of her father to cancer, who was thousands of miles away. Despite these trials, her journey led her to take on a leadership role as the Director of Outreach for RAHA International, providing support for Iranian immigrants in the LGBTQIA+ community. Although she was a self-described introvert, she became a bridge-builder across different communities.

“Some quieter folks wouldn't chat during the group meetings, but before or after, they'd come up to me and share their stories,” said Asl, referring to her time in RAHA’s therapeutic and peer-supported group sessions. “It was one of the most meaningful things I experienced before med school – being a confidant, just listening as they shared,” she said, adding, “What's better than that?”

Navigating the complexities of tradition and personal authenticity, Asl’s ongoing journey of self-discovery led her to a profound insight—that embracing oneself means embracing all the complexities of identity. Her experiences ignited a passion for broader change, evident in her advocacy through academia, social medicine, and research.

Today, she sees a host of possibilities in her future, including an interest in hematology/oncology fueled by her father's battle with cancer. She is eager to explore and make a meaningful impact wherever her medical journey takes her.

Evelyn Thomas

Evelyn Thomas, a fellow member of the Class of 2027, has always approached her academic journey thoughtfully. Her choice to join the Larner College of Medicine was intentional, influenced not only by its values and resources, but also by her identity as a young Black and LGBTQIA+ woman aspiring to make a meaningful impact in medicine.

Thomas’ entry into the medical realm unfolded during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when she assumed the role of a psychiatric care technician (PCT). Here, she gained hands-on hospital experience—conducting EKGs and blood tests and leading patient groups. Notably, her initiative to organize a book drive created a shared library for patients, fostering connections through stories.

Though always interested in education, Thomas’ passion for science solidified in high school. This led her to Ohio State, where she engaged in a study on the FN14/TWEAK pathway’s cardiac impact, later published in Life Sciences. Her interest in medical ethics guided her to Larner’s ethics courses, fueling her desire to explore the moral aspects of medicine, including pressing issues like equitable care and health literacy.

A pivotal moment in Thomas’ journey occurred during her time as an undergraduate student at Ohio State. Enrolled in a Black Women’s History course, she encountered Harriet Washington’s “Medical Apartheid,” which revealed the distressing history of unethical research on Black Americans, expanding her understanding beyond well-known cases. This prompted her to reevaluate her educational path and the significance of ethical awareness.

Thomas’ commitment to addressing medical challenges is grounded in practicality. Drawing from her PCT role, she aims to incorporate active listening and personalized care into her practice, recognizing the universal significance of mental health concerns. Her emphasis on holistic well-being extends to herself, acknowledging the role of self-care in effective patient care.

Thomas’ narrative embodies authenticity and compassion—qualities that are invaluable in medicine. Her path at the Larner College of Medicine is set to reflect genuine dedication and a drive for positive change in health care, a commitment destined to resonate through her future practice.

Evelyn Thomas