Medical Master's Alumni


Bree Ann Young

BS, Lehigh University '12

MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '13

MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '17  


Richard Higham-Kessler

BA, Emory University '09MM Testimonial photo Higham-Kessler

MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School – Medical Master's Program ‘12

MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School ‘16


I chose EVMS' Medical Master's program because I found that the school cared about me and wanted to help me succeed. EVMS students help each other learn in a collaborative way to a degree that I have yet to find elsewhere. They study together, make practice practical exams, share study guides, and answer each other's questions on Facebook. The faculty go out of their way to hold review sessions, meet with students, elicit feedback, and provide ancillary materials. As one professor says, "If a student fails a class, we as a faculty have failed." The first year medical students are incredibly supportive and friendly, and they treat the medical master's students with the same respect and support that they give their classmates.  All of these factors combine to explain why EVMS' Medical Master's program students have a phenomenal rate of matriculation into medical school.

I also learned from the program, and my fellow students, the best study techniques for medical students, and as a consequence I'm flourishing in my training. My performance as a Medical Master's student allowed me to place out of several classes as a first year, and my new study skills further have decreased the time burden of being a first year student. This increase in free time has allowed me become significantly involved in the leadership of the HOPES Clinic, travel to Haiti as part of a medical mission, and conduct clinical research. I cannot recommend the Medical Master's Program at EVMS highly enough. 

 Daniel Pierce

BS, The College of William & Mary '09

MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School - Medical Master's Program '12

MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School '16 




Natalie Marie Walck

BS, The College of William and Mary ‘10

MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School-  Medical Master’s Program ‘11

MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School ‘15

MM Testimonial photo Natalie Walck

The EVMS Medical Master’s program was an obvious choice for me. I was unable to get into medical school directly from undergrad and the program allowed me to prove my ability and enhance my AMCAS application. Compared to other medical master’s programs, the EVMS program allows master’s students to be almost completely immersed in the M1 curriculum. You take all but 3 M1 classes with the M1 students, which allow you to really see if you can handle medical school. Many other master’s programs separate the master’s students from the M1 classes and there is little interaction between the programs. EVMS does a wonderful job of integrating the two programs and making the master’s students feel like a part of the school instead of split off or “unimportant” compared to the medical students.

The EVMS Medical Master’s program really made me hungry for medical school. It gave me the motivation I needed to prove that I belonged to be in those same seats as the medical students. My determination and drive that was created by the master’s program has continued into my second year of medical school and I am excelling academically. Looking back, I would have done the Medical Master’s program even if I had gotten into medical school. I don’t think I would appreciate my position as a medical student or have half the drive I have now without it.



Sabina Cieszynski

BA, New York University '05

MS, Eastern Virginia Medical School – Medical Master's Program ‘09

MD Candidate, Eastern Virginia Medical School ‘13

The Medical Master's program at Eastern Virginia Medical School was the key to a career I had always envisioned for myself. As a nontraditional applicant, it not only provided me with the foundation for acquiring the study skills and the basic science knowledge I would need to propel through four years of medical school, but it allowed me to meet an incredible group of driven individuals with the ambition, intelligence, and enthusiasm with whom I could share the journey. Today, having matched into a residency program in my home state of New York, I can officially call myself a resident physician and having shared this transition with the other “Medical Master's” makes the process even more worth it.‌





I was attracted to EVMS because they strive to build a community of students and faculty who have your best interest in mind, which creates an ideal environment for learning and excelling. Because of our similar ideals I could not imagine a better school to achieve the goals I have set forth for myself.

What is the best course you have taken?

Medical Physiology has absolutely been my favorite course. The class is separated into blocks examining different organ systems individually (cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, etc.). The material taught in this class is clinically applicable and relevant pathologies are added to nearly every lecture. The human body is amazingly intricate and interconnected and every new piece of information I learn leaves me wanting more.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the program?

The most memorable volunteering experience I’ve had this year has to be participating in Haunted Hallway. Every year for Halloween EVMS students provide a safe place to trick-or-treat for local children and their families by turning a large part of Lewis Hall into a haunted house/maze/game room. We all bought costumes and spent the majority of the night handing out candy and scaring the kids (not too much though!). Events like these provide a great way to take a break from studying and get involved with the local community.

What study habits have helped you most?

Medical school is challenging due to the volume of material presented to you on a daily basis, and honestly it can be overwhelming at first. Adapting is difficult for some, but EVMS provides plenty of resources to help students identify new learning styles. For me, I found a flashcard program called Anki that uses spaced repetition to help reinforce concepts. After finding what works for you it just comes down to putting in the hours studying!

What medical specialty do you have in mind?

I’m currently interested in Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Meds-Peds). This specialty qualifies you to care for newborns, geriatrics, and everywhere in between.

Wise words for incoming MM students...      

Enjoy your summer, and have all of your secondaries finished before school starts. This program (and being a Med Master in general) can be very stressful, but I’ve been fortunate enough to make a wonderful and supportive group of friends. Come here open minded and ready to meet people; don't try to make it through the year on your own!





Why did you pick EVMS?

I learned about the Medical Master’s program through a friend who had previously graduated from it. Being enrolled in mostly medical school classes with medical students really appealed to me. The program gives one the opportunity to show admissions boards that he/she is able to perform at or above the level of current medical students.

What is the best course you have taken?

Medical Neuroscience has been my favorite course. Having practically no exposure to neuroscience, I find the pathways and clinical correlations extremely interesting. The professors are very enthusiastic and love to talk about their experiences, whether it’s research or the humanitarian aspect of the field.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the Program?

The B.E.A.C.H Buddies program matches students with pediatric oncology and hematology patients at the local children’s hospital. Students can visit their buddies whenever they’re in clinic, and the program also has scheduled events (ice skating, laser tag, etc.) for fun.

What moving tips would you give to incoming MM Students?

When searching for an apartment, don’t sacrifice comfort for slight reductions in the price to rent. Be sure your place has heating, a good internet connection for schoolwork, and factor in its distance from campus (and whether or not you’ll be driving).

What medical specialty do you have in mind?

As of now I’m leaning towards family medicine, but I’m keeping an open mind as I get more exposure to other specialties.

Do you have any wise words for incoming MM Students?

Staying current with the material means a lot of sacrifices to your normal routine; however, it’s important to keep up with at least one thing that makes you happy. Whether it be sports/exercise, volunteer work, or something else, it’s necessary to have that outlet for reducing stress.





MM Rina Nguyen

Why did you pick EVMS? 

The program at EVMS appealed to me with the opportunity to excel as a student and strengthen my medical school applications. The faculty and students were very supportive and responsive to all my needs, something that I feel is an important aspect in deciding which program to choose. I knew that taking a full load of actual medical school courses was the best way to assess my abilities to succeed in medical school. 

What is the best course you have taken? 

I have always been a research advocate and interested in organisms on the microbiology level. With this being said, Organ Systems Structure (Histology) had to be the best course I have taken this year.   The weekly lab sessions was a great opportunity to connect lecture material to actual observations under the microscope.  I learn best through visualization and this was a great course for that!

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the Program?

Being part of the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) has been my favorite volunteer activity in the program.  NEST is an annual event where students collaborate with the community to provide temporary shelter and food for homeless individuals. It gave my classmates and me a great opportunity to work as a team and reveal our culinary skills in the kitchen. The appreciation from individuals whom we were helping was heartwarming and motivated me to become more involved in the community.

What study habits have helped you the most?

With the heavy load of information every medical student has to absorb and regurgitate in a short amount of time, being organized is key. Creating charts and diagrams was one of the most beneficial study methods I have used this year. This allowed me to keep track of the important details and reorganize lecture materials in a way that was most comprehensive to me.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future revolve around research and the academics setting.  I enjoy being in an enriched academic environment and hope to be able to contribute to science as well as collaborate with other individuals who share common goals.   I also hope to acquire the skills to participate in medical missions abroad as a physician. 

Wise words for incoming MM Students?

Finish your secondaries before the start of the program so that you will have time to enjoy meeting your future classmates during the first couple weeks. Stay motivated and make use of the resources available around you.  It may require a bit of adapting, but try to decipher a study plan that works for you and stick to it.  The greatest part of this program to me was how much my study habits have improved and my confidence to tackle medical school! 






Quite a few “special master’s programs” have sprouted up around the country, all promising to enhance an applicant’s ability to gain admittance to medical school. EVMS quickly distinguished itself and consequently rose to the top of my list after the wonderful first impression made by the Medical Master’s administrative team. My questions were promptly answered with thoughtful insight and suggestions for strengthening certain areas of my application. It was clear to me that if I chose to attend, I would be immersed in a supportive and nurturing environment. The staff that helps make this program thrive advocates for each of the students in the program. They want us to succeed, and in turn we do.

What is the best course you have taken?

This is a difficult question to answer because all the courses are taught so well! I have learned more than I ever thought I could from each of the classes. What’s great about all the core science courses that we take with the M1s is that we get revolving lecturers and clinicians, who provide us with great breadth and depth. We are exposed to the latest literature on disease processes and participate in interactive sessions where we are asked, “Given the current standards of care, how should we proceed?” It’s thrilling to practice taking on this role.

The course that has perhaps resonated with me the most is Medical Neuroscience. We tackle an immense amount of information regarding neurological disorders and the brain’s complex processing, but then we are also granted a glimpse into the lives of patients who suffer from these diseases. The panels that host individuals from Hampton Roads highlight triumphs and shortcomings in the system of neurological care. We are encouraged to reflect and propose ways to better the system. As future doctors, we will have the power to right many current injustices and be active agents of change. The Medical Neuroscience course reinforces this potential and helps us begin to see how we might realize it.

What has been your favorite volunteer activity while in the Program?

At EVMS, the focus on serving the surrounding community is inspiring and rewarding. In addition to volunteering as a B.E.A.C.H. Buddy for a child with neuroblastoma, I have enjoyed working with my classmates to help the current M1s design a program that they could develop and expand over their four years at EVMS. The blossoming new project called “Young at Heart” is a partnership with PB Young Elementary School. For three hours every Saturday, workshops are held to address writing and composition challenges facing students, along with extracurricular enrichment activities, such as art and soccer, that are not otherwise available at the school. As part of this initiative, I led a Children’s Zumba class and witnessed kids’ self confidence levels grow as they mastered Bachata and Reggaeton dance moves. It is important to step outside of the stacks of the library and interact with the community around us, and I am grateful for the opportunity to so during my time at EVMS.  

What study habits have helped you the most?

One of the most important study habits I have developed involves revisiting material as often as possible. Also, given that we all juggle a great deal in this program, I find that my ability to recall minutia during exams is strengthened by previewing the material before each lecture and reviewing each day’s lectures in the evenings. I have embraced the fact that my schedule changes each week; the core science courses do not generally follow a repeating pattern, so I make sure to stay current in the interim, which helps maintain my momentum.

Fortunately, the most valuable study tool has been the collaborative environment that formed naturally among M1 and Med Master's students. Between study groups and tutors, we gain so much by learning and teaching together. A few days before an exam, our class Facebook pages become peppered with beautifully illustrated study guides, clever mnemonics, and words of encouragement. Our colleagues are our greatest supporters, and everyone seems to realize that we all benefit most when we lift each other up.

What are your goals for the future?

As I reflect back on the year spent studying alongside first year medical students, I am proud of what this program has helped me accomplish. Having a chance to sample the rigors of medical school, while serving the community through volunteer opportunities, has reinforced my drive to pursue medicine. I feel capable and prepared to take on medical school courses in the future and one day practice medicine with the clinical knowledge I have acquired.

Wise words for incoming MM Students...

Learn to be adaptable, because there are times when this program can be overwhelming. The schedule constantly changes, you are given an immense amount of information to process, you will be challenged to navigate scenarios you may have no experience with, and many people will have tips and advice for you that may completely contradict what you are used to. A bit of guidance that kept me level-headed throughout the year was to “make sure you do what is best for you.” I think it is important to try new study approaches because this academic environment is very accelerated. However, it is easy to lose your way when experimenting, so be sure not to completely abandon habits that have worked well for you in the past.

Most importantly, make sure to reserve time for yourself. Whether it’s through Mind and Meditation yoga every week, catching the game on Sunday, or thrifting—my personal vice—doing what helps you decompress is crucial for maintaining your stamina through this year.

Lastly, finish your primary AMCAS application and secondaries before school starts. If you are like me, and this is the first year you are applying to medical school, you may not be used to the pacing of the application process. Submitting applications early is beneficial on all fronts, most importantly in that it allows you to fully acclimate into the program without distraction.