Class of 2024 Medical Students Arrive on Campus for Orientation

August 12, 2020 by Jennifer Nachbur

The eyes of the Larner College of Medicine’s newest group of future physicians were bright with excitement as they walked through the halls of Given on their first day as medical students on August 10. While Orientation has a different look and feel this year, the poignancy of this moment is no less significant for the Class of 2024. 

After registering and receiving their Larner-branded masks, the 124 freshly-minted students gathered in small groups across the Medical Education Center to view, via Zoom, a warm welcome from Deans Rick Page, M.D., and Christa Zehle, M.D., and participate in their First Patient Briefing with Chair and Professor of Pediatrics Lewis First, M.D. 

Although Orientation is being delivered using a hybrid session format this year, the objective remains the same: to offer activities that provide an opportunity for students to become familiar with the campus, curriculum, community, and each other. To accomplish this goal while adhering to campus safety guidelines, students are being divided into small groups and spread across multiple rooms.  

“Faculty and staff are engaging with students in their small groups and through synchronous Zoom presentations,” explains Karen Lounsbury, Ph.D., Foundations director and professor of pharmacology. “Sessions that do not require student discussion will be held fully remotely,” she adds.  

In addition to the first patient interview and reflection, Orientation course highlights include several diversity, equity and inclusion sessions, a remote community service activity, a day of wellness-focused activities, a remote Dean’s Reception, and a virtual Resource Fair. 

Roughly a third of the Class of 2024 hail from Vermont, while about 90 are from out of state. Learn more about three of the newest UVM future physicians, below: 

  • Mohamad Hamze is from Dracut, Mass., and received a biology degree from Tufts University. Watching his orthopedic surgeon in action after he broke his legs was the spark that led him to medicine. He's excited to get to know his classmate and learn how to navigate the "new normals" they'll be facing together. Fun facts about Mohamad: He has a 50+-pair sneaker collection, spent summers working as a mechanic in his family's auto repair shop, and loves to play and watch soccer. (Check out @uvmmedicine on Instagram for more about Mohamad.) 
  • Betsy Assoumou, from Belchertown, Mass., is a former public accountant for a big four accounting firm who was inspired to pursue medicine after caring for and losing her mother to metastatic breast cancer. Betsy holds a B.A. in chemistry, an M.S. in accounting/M.B.A., and an M.S. in medical science. Fun facts about Betsy: She volunteers as an accountant for non-profit organizations; she once played Dorothy (and made her own ruby slippers) in her middle school's production of the Wizard of Oz; she was born in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and speaks French. (Check out @uvmmedicine on Instagram for more about Betsy.) 
  • Justin Esteban is from Bethel, Conn., and earned a B.S. in biology from Rider University. Growing up with parents who were a nurse and laboratory technologist, he was always fascinated with medicine, but it was a shadowing experience in college that led to his decision to go to medical school. He's excited to meet his new classmates and give back to the community. Fun facts about Justin: He's a self-described "very, very amateur magician;" he swam in the Dead Sea—the lowest place on earth; he toured Fenway and signed the Green Monster on Vermont Day in 2017—even though he's a Yankees fan! (Check out @uvmmedicine on Instagram for more about Justin.)