This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

Medical students face their futures on high-energy Match Day

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Sarkiss-parents.615
Christopher Sarkiss and his parents, Aram and Sparvin Sarkiss, are all smiles after learning on Match Day that he was accepted by Mt. Sinai for a residency in neurosurgery. The annual event occurs each spring when medical students across the country receive news at the very same moment about where they will be doing their residency in their chosen specialty. Photos by Todd Cheney/UCLA Photo.
Nearly 160 aspiring doctors and their elated families flooded Covel Commons on Thursday, March 17, for UCLA’s Match Day — when medical students eagerly discover which hospital has accepted them for residency or advanced training in their chosen specialty. 
 
Dr. Eugene Washington, vice chancellor of health sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine, welcomed excited parents, who roared with approval when he noted that their children have studied at “the best medical school in the universe.” 
 
Peony hug
Future pediatrician Peony Liu receives a hug after finding out she will be spending her residency at the hospital of her first choice: UCLA.
Charged with stalling until the clock struck 9 a.m. — the exact minute that medical students nationwide are permitted to open their envelopes — Dr. Neil Parker reviewed the residency breakdown. Nearly half of the UCLA class is pursuing residencies in primary care, and the same number is remaining in the Los Angeles area. 
 
"This is a little like the Oscars,” explained Parker, senior associate dean of student affairs. “Everyone has been nominated for best doctor — and you’ve all won.”
 
Formalities dispensed, the morning climaxed in a mad scramble for the acceptance envelopes. Cameras clicked madly, jubilant screams filled the air and fists pumped overhead as the letters divulged their secrets.  
 
Future pediatrician Peony Liu, 26, was one of the lucky ones who received her top choice.

"I actually had a dream last night that I matched at UCLA," Liu told a radio reporter covering the event. "When I took my envelope, I opened it one fold at a time, and it said UCLA.”  She laughed giddily. “My dream came true.”
 
Often sending students across the country to unfamiliar cities, the match procedure shapes both the future doctors’ medical careers and their personal lives. Not least, their residency dictates where they will spend the next two to seven years of their lives.
 
The important moment was a thrilling culmination for many, including Karlos Oregel. A big brother to three deaf siblings in a Mexican-American family from inner-city Santa Ana, Oregel chose a career in primary care to bridge the cultural gaps between the Spanish-speaking and hearing-impaired communities.
 
He credits his immigrant parents for helping him achieve his dream. While Oregel attended college at UC Riverside, his mother cleaned houses and his father picked fruit at nearby farms. He pursued his medical education through UCR/UCLA’s joint program. 
 
Evan White
Evan White was inspired by his mother Susan's fight against colon cancer to become a radiation oncologist.
Also waiting to open his envelope was Evan White of Sacramento. White’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer when White was in his senior year in college. Her fight to survive inspired him to pursue a career in radiation oncology.
 
 Before entering medical school, White worked in biotechnology, where he became an inventor on two patents and developed an antibody he dubbed eBioEvan. Now his goal is to provide compassionate care to cancer patients like his mom, while pursuing research to improve their quality of life. His mom is now celebrating her fifth year of remission and is thrilled to see her son become a doctor.  
 
Also among the smiling faces was Christopher Sarkiss, 25, who couldn’t be happier with the news he received.  The first person in his family to attend medical school, he matched in neurosurgery at Mt. Sinai.  “I feel great,” he said.  “I’m excited to leave L.A. and explore New York City.” 
 
 
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