Guilly Rebagay thrust his arms skyward in triumph as classmates from Medical College of Georgia cheered and screamed around him in Lee Auditorium and he in turn greeted them with a single word mantra.
“Harvard!” he said, exchanging high fives. “Harvard!”
Rebagay was among 207 at the school of medicine at Georgia Regents University who participated in Match Day, an annual ritual that is a mixture of Carnivale, pep rally and rugby scrum as students hug, cry and scream as they are handed an envelope telling them what residency program they matched up with. Students visit residency programs in their fourth year and then turn in a ranked list to the National Resident Matching Program, which then pairs it with a list of students from the residency program and finds the highest match for the student. MCG students did particularly well this year, said Dr. Kathleen M. McKie, the associate dean for student affairs.
“This is the best match we’ve ever had,” she said, with only a handful not finding a position.
Many, like Rebagay, were celebrating their top choice. He will be doing his residency in internal medicine at the Harvard teaching hospital Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“He’s been dreaming about this since college and elementary” school, said his mother, Winona.
A lot of dreams were fulfilled Friday, not only in getting a coveted spot but students dressed up as someone they wanted to be from childhood. Luke Boone cruised across the auditorium stage on rollerskates en route to learning he will do his residency in general surgery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I connected two dreams – rollerskating and medicine,” he joked.
LaShon Sturgis had a lot of reasons for tearing up when she saw she will be staying in Augusta to do her residency in Emergency Medicine at MCG, one of 24 students staying put. She was surrounded by family and cradling her 20-month-old daughter, Taylor.
“My mom, my dad, my daughter, my husband are all here so we all have our fingers crossed we are not packing boxes next week,” she said before her dream came true. “My my mom moved here a couple of years ago. There is a lot riding on today.”
Josh Bell and Aamne Shalabi put their faith in each other and matched together as a couple so they will be heading to Chicago – she to a pediatric residency at the University of Chicago and he to orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center. Before all the madness and screaming and hugging began, they had a moment to feel a little gratitude.
“Our friends that are here with us today really have gotten us through medical school, a lot of ups and downs and without a strong support network like that it would be extremely tough,” Bell said.
“No matter what it is a good day to see everything you worked for come to fruition,” Shalabi said.