A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Med Students Meet Their Matches


At Match Day, the MD Class of 2024 celebrates the next stage of their careers and their lives.

Emotions ran high as more than 120 students at The Warren Alpert Medical School gathered with friends and family on Friday, March 15, for Match Day to learn where they would be matched for residency and where their path in medicine will take them next.

The celebration is an emotional endpoint for fourth-year students, as it caps off years of exhaustive studying and classes, on top of an arduous nine-month residency application and interviewing process. As students opened their envelopes at precisely noon amid a balloon drop and a live band, they discovered where they’ll train in their specialty, with many hoping to land in programs near families or communities important to them.

Before they tore open their envelopes, Mukesh K. Jain, MD, dean of medicine and biological sciences, told the crowd packed into two floors of the Medical School that Match Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the many sacrifices made by the students and their “champions,” like faculty, family, and friends. He emphasized that, no matter where the students matched, it would not define them, and they would go on to accomplish “great things.”

“It’s how you invest in yourself that defines you,” Jain said.

Following a decade-long gap in academia, including a deployment overseas as part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force, David Loftus MD’24 was admittedly anxious how he would perform in medical school. But his time at Brown reinforced that he is on the right path.

A competitive skier and former intelligence officer in the US Navy who grew up near Syracuse, NY, Loftus chose to pursue neurosurgery because it fosters a strong relationship with patients.

“Although it’s a surgical subspecialty with incredible requirements of technical skill, it also demands the full spectrum of doctoring,” including hospital and outpatient care, he says. 

At noon, Loftus learned he will be at University of Virginia School of Medicine’s neurosurgery residency program. 

He had one word to describe how he felt after opening the envelope: “Ecstatic!”

For students like Ghazal Aghagoli ’19 MD’24, the prospect of entering obstetrics and gynecology was a deeply personal one. Aghagoli was born in Iran and her family immigrated to Vancouver when she was 12 years old.

“I fell in love with the field of OB/GYN not only because of the impact that it has on women’s health, but also due to its essential work in advocating for women’s right to health care,” says Aghagoli, who will go to [what school/hospital]for her residency. Aghagoli also cofounded F-1 Doctors—the first national peer-to-peer mentorship website for international students in health careers—while at Brown.

Aghagoli is excited to become a physician and leverage her privileges to advocate for her patients and perhaps one day become a physician researcher. She matched with the OB/GYN program at Duke University School of Medicine and said she is “beyond excited.” She participated in a couple’s match with her partner, who matched with the internal medicine program at the University of North Carolina.

“We could not be more excited,” Aghagoli says.

Sarah Nuss MD’24, of Wayland, MA, says her interest in global health shaped her path to otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat surgery). Her experiences abroad, like a year working in Rwanda, solidified her mindset. Her father’s work as a pediatric otolaryngologist and her mother’s pediatric work across the globe sparked her initial interest, but she credits them with encouraging her to forge her own path.

“Very early on I became more drawn clinically to surgical fields in general and ended up exploring various subspecialties,” she says. “I ended up doing an ENT rotation and I fell in love with it. I loved the blend of surgical problem-solving, complex anatomy, and working with your hands while forming longitudinal relationships with patients was wonderful.”

Brown’s institutional support encouraged her to “dream big” with a career at the intersection of global health and ENT. She previously led a study to develop a global consensus of priority ENT procedures, and Nuss plans to continue her global health focus into residency. She matched with Harvard Medical School’s ENT program.

“I’m very excited—it was my first choice,” Nuss says.

John Cotoia ScM’18 MD’24, who joined Brown as part of the inaugural Brown Gateways to Medicine, Health Care and Research master’s degree program, will begin their career in family medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Cotoia participated in the couple’s match with their partner, who will go to the University of Chicago.

“I’m thankful to have my family and friends present for this moment and I’m excited to make them and myself proud in a career of family medicine,” Cotoia said.

As a “military brat” who moved 18 times around the country, Cotoia was exposed to new people and places regularly. That adaptability felt like a natural fit for family medicine, where they will treat diverse populations and conditions. 

“I don’t think I could just do something more specialized, as I’d be so sad if I lost access to infants, adolescents, adults, and elderly patients,” Cotoia says. “I need to make sure that I have access to anyone and everyone and learn as many skills as possible.”

Cotoia, who is completing the Scholarly Concentration in LGBTQ+ Healthcare and Advocacy, says that program will greatly benefit their practice.

“A lot of these skills I have built up for this amazing population are still applicable to everyone,” they say. “Providing services like gender informed care, reproductive health care, and mental health care will help me serve not only the queer population but everyone and anyone.”

While this past week was one of anticipation and some anxiety for most medical students as they eagerly waited to open their red envelopes on Match Day, the wait was over for a few of their classmates. Army 2nd Lt. Serica Hallstead MD’24, who will pursue pathology, and Army 2nd Lt. Alex Albright MD’24, who is specializing in orthopedic surgery, pursued the military match, which took place Dec. 13. Both matched to San Antonio Military Medical Center, and they will get married in a few months.

Hallstead, of Canandaigua, NY, says she came to Brown interested in psychiatry. But she fell in love with pathology during her third-year clerkship, its wide-reaching influence across the patient experience and its focus on understanding the mechanisms and minutiae behind illnesses. 

“The human body is a whole universe under a microscope that you can’t see otherwise and I just found that absolutely magical,” Hallstead says. “The people within the department and the field itself were absolutely the kinds of people I wanted to surround myself with. These were the detectives in medicine.”

At Brown, Hallstead accomplished a diverse set of personal and professional goals, like developing an orientation to help students acclimate to autopsy procedures, as well as playing violin in the Providence Medical Orchestra and serving on its leadership team.

“I’m proud to be from [Brown]. I know it might just be one little stepping stone in the road of my whole life, but it’s been a meaningful one,” Hallstead says. 

View the full match list for The Warren Alpert Medical School’s MD Class of 2024.


Comments are closed.