HUNTINGTON — Eighty excited students comprising the Class of 2023 of Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine were awarded their white coats, stethoscopes and other medical equipment Friday evening at the school's annual White Coat Ceremony at Huntington's Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
The ceremony is traditionally emblematic of the students' entry into their next phases of extended medical education and preparations for futures working as physicians of various specialties.
The Class of 2023 features students from various backgrounds, including an attorney, a national champion baton twirler, numerous college athletes and a former coal miner.
Nearly 80% of the 80 students are West Virginians, and about 88% of the students in the class completed their undergraduate studies with science majors.
About 15% of students comprising the Class of 2023 are first-generation college graduates, while nearly 30% come from families with physicians in the household.
Adam Whitmore, a 21-year-old student from Barboursville who completed his undergraduate studies at Marshall as a biology major, said growing up seeing his father working as a doctor helped to spark his interest in becoming a physician as well, along with some other formative experiences.
"One time, when I was in fifth grade, he had an anaphylactic shock, which is a severe allergic reaction, and I just remember in that moment, I felt so hopeless," Whitmore said. "I didn't want other people to ever feel like that, so I just wanted to be someone people could turn to in those moments."
Joe Chirico, a 23-year-old Huntington native, said he spent his undergraduate years studying political science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
The journey to becoming a physician is one that has already proven challenging and will likely only become more rigorous in the future, Chirico said, but he could not imagine a more rewarding profession to work toward.
"This is the first step in such a long journey," Chirico said. "I am very excited for the opportunity to be able to consistently give back to my community in every capacity I can. It definitely won't be easy, but it's worth it."
Students in Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Class of 2023 are: Garima Agarwal, Pooja Ajay Warrier, Christeebella Ojonugwa Akpala, Suzann Al-Qawasmi, Tyler Everette Blake, Garrett Boggs, Gloria Bonsu, John Ryan Brown, Brianna Chante Canales, Christian Casingal, Jaineet Singh Chhabra, Joseph Anthony Chirico, Cameron Lee Cottrill, Blue Elizabeth Cremeans, James Clayton Curry, Michael Francis DeRosa, Nicholas Dean Dolan, Alexander Dunham, Benjamin Madden Duplaga, Rawan Mehiar Elhamdani, Brandon Justin Fazalare, Caroline Elizabeth Fresch, Joshua Preston Galbraith, Elizabeth Anne Goetz, Luke Edward Hamm, Nicolas Caleb Harris, Daniel James Haught, Brandon Scott Henderson, Ethan Lee Higginbotham, Mark Allen Hill Jr., Danny James Holbert, Brent Julius Horswell, Haseeb Arshad Jafary, Alexis Michelle James-Joyce, Fatih Can Koc, Theodore Spiro Kocoshis, Rachel Elaine Lee, Jensyn Joan Leonhart, Wasila Saleh Madhoun, Ian Jeffrey McElroy, John Shea McLaughlin, Kendell Turman McNeely, Daniel Jackson McNeil, Caleb Thomas Meaige, Daniel Garth Miller, Tori Paige Miller, Aryana Alexis Misaghi, Mikayla Marie Myers, Shelby Marie Naegele, Shelley Rene' Naylor, Matthew Crisostomo O'Neal, Reena Park, Regan Zachary Patton, Alexa Marie Pigliacampi, Micah Sage Ray, Kevin James Reger, John Robert Roth, Nicholas Keith Royce, Michelle Elizabeth Rueff, Austin Francis Rush, Melinda Jo Sharon, Erin Leigh Shaver, Paul David Shaver Jr., Emma Isabelle Sherfinski, Abigail Rae Short, Caleb James Spainhower, Morgan Delaney Spencer, Daniel Anthony Testa, Chuchitra Thanigaivasan, Patrick Mendel Thomas, Abigail Paige Tolbert, Steven Tun, Anisha Priya Valluri, Terry Alan Waddell II, Joshua Adam Whitmore, Seneca Rae Williams, Lilyan Taylor Wright, Thomas Douglas Wright, Andreas Mykal Zambos and Jenna Joan Zuzolo.