Meet & Greet
First-year students and residents share what brought them to EVMS
HEALTHCARE IS A CALLING. Learn what inspired these new students and residents to pursue careers as health professionals and find out what they love about EVMS.
MD Class of 2024
BS in General Biology, University of Maryland, College Park
OLUWATOBI AKANDE, MD CLASS OF 2024, always had a passion for helping people. He often volunteered in medical clinics and homeless shelters, but his experience shadowing a doctor in a hospital emergency department made him realize he wanted to be a physician.
“I was captivated by how the doctors were able to respond to such dire situations with wisdom and compassion,” says Mr. Akande. “They helped restore people from their lowest point back to the best they could be. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
When it came time for him to choose a medical school, serving the community, especially underserved communities, was very important to him.
“EVMS made it clear to me that serving the community was its mission,” he says, “so I knew I had found the right place for me.” Being on campus over the past few months has proved he made the right decision.
“I’ve had a lot of professors in the past, but the ones here at EVMS have shown that they really care about my success. It feels like they’re on my team and that they’re prepared to help me in any way possible to become the best doctor I can be.”
MD Class of 2024
BS in Biology, Hamilton College, New York
BRASHER FALLS, NEW YORK, WHERE RYLIE MAINVILLE grew up, is such a small town, its population could fit into Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall — with seats left open. Her mom taught in her elementary school; her dad taught in her high school. “It’s nice to live in Norfolk now,” she says, “where there’s more than one stoplight.”
Ms. Mainville was drawn to EVMS for its focus on the community. “The town I grew up in is very underserved, and I wanted my medical education to be rooted in community health. EVMS holds the same values I do.”
Diagnosed with a seizure disorder while in college, Ms. Mainville is never without her seizure alert/response dog, a golden doodle named Sage. Although her condition has helped fine-tune her focus, Ms. Mainville has wanted a career in medicine since childhood. “It will be a privilege to be able to help people during their toughest times.”
Jairo Noreña, MD
Internal Medicine Residency
MD, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
WHEN DR. JAIRO NOREÑA ARRIVED ON CAMPUS, he may have looked familiar. In addition to being an Internal Medicine resident, he’s also a prominent social-media influencer who shines a spotlight on the health and wellness of Hispanic communities.
While practicing as a physician in Colombia, Dr. Noreña answered questions from patients and friends. “People often asked the same questions,” he says, “so I decided to make my first video and post it on my Instagram account.”
Just a few years later, more than 200,000 people tune in to hear his health advice. Of particular interest to him is the dire increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, which made EVMS a perfect fit.
“EVMS has a great center of excellence for diabetes but also an amazing staff,” Dr. Noreña says. “The diversity in the patients here, the high quality of education we get and the school’s location on the East Coast close to my family make EVMS an incredible place to train.”
Lois Davis, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency
MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine
DR. LOIS DAVIS LEARNED THE VALUE OF HARD WORK at a young age. At 11, she started her own business and hasn’t stopped working to achieve her dreams. Now, as a first-year resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, she has seen that hard work pay off.
She was drawn to EVMS for the diversity of the faculty, residents and patient population. “Many of the places I interviewed, outside of historically Black colleges and universities, had diverse patient populations with almost uniformly white healthcare providers,” Dr. Davis says. “EVMS was one of few that had a range of faculty and residents who had different cultures, backgrounds and languages.”
Dr. Davis says that’s critical to giving proper care. “It’s important for patients to be able to identify and feel comfortable with the people caring for them.”
SA Class of 2022
BS in Kinesiology, Mississippi State University
ENDURING 13 YEARS AS A COMPETITIVE GYMNAST prepared Sarah Parkey, Master of Surgical Assisting Class of 2022, for a career in medicine.
“Gymnastics really taught me dedication and determination, which contribute to how I attack schoolwork,” says Ms. Parkey. “Going to the doctor for injuries also became second nature, but the best part was how the doctors would answer my questions and explain to me the inner workings of human anatomy.”
After working as an emergency department technician and observing a variety of clinical paths, she determined surgical assisting would be the best fit for her. “I want to be the second pair of hands to surgeons and be able to anticipate their moves in surgery to make [the operation] as smooth as possible for the safety of the patient.”
EVMS was her first choice as the only master’s program for surgical assisting in the country. “I wanted to learn as much about the field as possible,” says Ms. Parkey. “I believe knowledge is power and the more we know going into the operating room, the more prepared we become.”
MPH Class of 2022
BS in Business Administration, Regent University
PERSONAL HEALTH STRUGGLES INSPIRED JOSHUA SADLER, MPH CLASS OF 2022, to pursue a degree in public health.
““I was diagnosed with cancer during my sophomore year of high school, and it was a challenging time,” Mr. Sadler says.
He had multiple surgeries and chemotherapy. “After I was in remission, I wanted to use my experience to help others.”
When he first toured EVMS, it felt like home. “My interaction with the staff during the application process was phenomenal,” says Mr. Sadler. “I was drawn to the numerous professional and community-service opportunities available to students.”
His first year on campus has confirmed he made the right choice. “I have had nothing but a positive experience at EVMS,” Mr. Sadler says. “I have enjoyed the interactions with my classmates, and the professors genuinely care about your success, both academically and professionally.”
He believes his past challenges combined with the education he’s receiving will give him a unique perspective to help others undergoing their own health struggles.
Ashley Gathers, MD
MD, Medical University of South Carolina, College of Medicine
DR. ASHLEY GATHERS VISITED EVMS IN 2011 as a summer scholar. Ten years later she returned as a first-year pediatrics resident.
“I worked on a nail-biting project that showed the association of diagnostic anxiety and changes in school performance based on socioeconomic status,” Dr. Gathers says of her stint as a summer scholar. “I was very fortunate to work with Dr. Stephen Restaino and Dr. John Harrington during the summer program and really learned so much from my experience.”
The program fueled her desire to pursue a career in medicine. And she made it her goal to provide younger generations with mentorship and guidance.
“The tenacity that carried me through medical school is the same spirit I will bring to my journey as a resident,” Dr. Gathers adds. “I hope to inspire others along the way.”
DHSc Class of 2023
AS A PUBLIC HEALTH SECTION CHIEF in the Kansas City area, distance learning was the best option for Jason Stalling, DHSc Class of 2023. “We are very busy right now, and the flexibility of the Doctor of Health Sciences courses allows me to work when I can,” says Mr. Stalling. What he is learning is already having a positive impact on his work with the Clay County Health Department. “Because my job is so closely related to my course of study, I am actively applying what I learn to help manage pandemic response in our county.”