For Immediate Release
Contact: Susan Preston
To Graduate 1,153 Health Care Professionals on May 21 in Trenton
The University of Medicine
and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) will award 1,153 professional
degrees and certificates on Wednesday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m.,
at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton.
UMDNJ will present honorary
degrees to Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, founding president of
the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Association and Foundation, which has
funded the FXB Center at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and also
two endowed chairs; and Dr. Steven Schroeder, distinguished professor
of health and health care at the University of California San Francisco
and immediate past president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Awards will be presented to Dr. Clifton Lacy, commissioner of
the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and Dr.
John Pezzuto, dean of the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health
Sciences at Purdue University.
Many graduates have
interesting stories to tell. Several will be available for interviews/photos
on Wednesday between 9:15 and 10 a.m. in front of the stage at
the arena. Press credentials will be distributed at this location
as well. Following is an alphabetical list of some of the noteworthy
UMDNJ graduates. To arrange an interview with any of the graduates
listed, please contact Jerry Carey at (856)566-6171 or Kaylyn
Dines at (973) 972-7276.
Joseph and Marie
Betivegna, of Little Egg Harbor (Burlington County), were
friends, not sweethearts, when they graduated from high school.
As their friendship strengthened, they identified a shared interest
in nursing and both earned associate in applied science degrees
in nursing from Burlington County College. Their friendship turned
to courtship and in August 2000 they married while both were enrolled
in a bachelor of science in nursing program, operated jointly
by the UMDNJ-School of Nursing and the New Jersey Institute of
Technology. The couple held full-time jobs, studied and commuted
to school together while maintaining 4.0 grade point averages.
Both were inducted into the Omicron Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta
Tau, the national nursing honor society. After commencement, the
26-year-old graduates will pursue master of science in nursing
degrees at the University of Pennsylvania.
As a youngster, Dr.
George Browne, 32, of Warren (Warren County), was fascinated
with his physician-uncle's career as an anesthesiologist and remembers
asking his mother if he was smart enough to become a physician.
He did not, however, apply to medical school after receiving a
bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Rutgers
University, but instead chose another pathway of service, entering
a religious order called the Brotherhood of Hope in South Orange.
After a year, he found himself drawn to health care, however,
and so he resigned and accepted a job as a critical care technician
at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. His responsibilities
included cleaning bed pans, feeding patients, monitoring vital
signs and maintaining the supplies for the unit. The job provided
him with an opportunity to talk with physicians every day and
inspired him to complete the pre-requisite courses required to
apply to UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Following commencement,
Dr. Browne will begin an internal medicine residency program at
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He and his wife, Jennifer,
have been married for seven years and they have three children
ages three, two and eight months.
may prevent some individuals from pursuing a college degree, but
Dr. Anthony Burgos, 33, of New Brunswick (Middlesex County),
was persistent, working as a waiter, a library supervisor and
a photo lab technician to defray the cost of his education. During
his first year at the University of Miami, even with full and
part-time jobs, he could not afford the tuition. He moved to Greenville,
N.C., and with a full-time job as a waiter, he also managed to
graduate magna cum laude from Pitt Community College, completing
a two-year program in one year. He then graduated summa cum laude
from Florida International University in three years, earning
a bachelor of sciences degree in biology. As a student at UMDNJ-Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School, Dr. Burgos lived in a two-room apartment
with two friends and their four children and worked 20 to 35 hours
a week as a night-time library supervisor. He received scholarships
from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic American Medical
Association, and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research.
He will spend one year at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Pa., before
returning to the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to complete
a radiology residency program.
An accident in 1978
that severed his hands led Dr. Woosik Chung, 27, of Lawrenceville
(Mercer County), on a journey to a career
as an orthopedic surgeon. While playing "hide-n-seek" during a
national holiday in his native South Korea, the then three-year-old
reached out to catch the whirring fan of a tractor engine, and
completely severed both hands. Luckily, his parents--a surgeon
and a nurse--were there and rushed him to a hospital. When they
arrived, they found only a skeleton health care staff because
of the holiday. Although Dr. Chung's father had never attempted
this type of operation before, with his wife and a surgical team
assisting, the youngster's hands were re-attached. Because the
procedure had rarely been performed, no one was quite sure if
Dr. Chung would ever regain the use of his hands or what the best
approach for rehabilitation was. His maternal grandfather, a Tae
Kwan Do master, stepped forward with a unique
approach. He began training the youngster in the martial arts.
Dr. Chung mastered the techniques so well that several years after
moving with his family to the United States, he qualified for
the U.S. national Tae Kwan Do team. He would have competed for
a spot on the 2002 U.S. Olympic team if the allure of medicine
hadn't drawn him to enroll at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
After graduating, Dr. Chung will pursue a residency in orthopedic
surgery at Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital. He plans
to specialize in hand surgery because, he says, "The best way
I can thank my dad is to help someone else in a similar situation."
When Jeff Clark, 32,
of Palmyra (Burlington County), walks across the stage to receive
his master of science degree in rehabilitation counseling from the
UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions, he will be accompanied
by Adonis, his walking guide dog. Mr. Clark was diagnosed with retinitis
pigmentosa, an eye condition that slowly progresses to loss of sight,
when he was seven years-old. Although he lost most of his vision
during his early 20s, he was determined to pursue his education,
receiving an associate of science degree in sociology from Burlington
County College and a bachelor of science degree in sociology and
psychology from Rutgers University in Camden. Since he is not proficient
in braille, a computer with a voice-output mechanism was an invaluable
tool in helping him listen to e-mails and review research documents
and lecture notes. His outstanding scholarship earned him an academic
excellence award at the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions
annual student recognition celebration. Earlier this month, he began
a new job as a vocation rehabilitation counselor at the New Jersey
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Camden
Dr. Marissa De Freese,
25, of Rahway (Union County), has artwork from childhood to
prove that she has wanted to be a physician since she was six
years-old. Her mother recently presented her with the drawings,
many of which show her wearing a white coat and a stethoscope.
As a student at Seton Hall University, from which she earned a
bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry,
Dr. De Freese was enrolled in ACCESS-MED, a program in which educationally
and economically disadvantaged students can enroll in medical
school classes during their senior year as undergraduates. As
an undergraduate, she was captain of the track team for two years,
and became the first student at Seton Hall to be named to the
All-American Track Team. Dr. De Freese will pursue a general surgery
residency program at Staten Island University Hospital in New
Dr. Sidney Glasofer,
27, of Short Hills (Essex County), probably will run another
marathon in a couple of years. He's run two before, even though
he almost didn't make it to the starting line of his first one.
In 2000, before beginning his second year at UMDNJ-New Jersey
Medical School, Dr. Glasofer decided to train for a marathon,
something he had never done before. At the start of his training
he was experiencing headaches. Initially, running seemed to ease
the pain, but then headaches became unbearable. Within three days
of visiting his physician, Dr. Glasofer was in the intensive care
unit of UMDNJ-University Hospital following surgery for the removal
of a benign brain tumor. Three weeks later, he was running again,
and three months after surgery, he completed the New York City
Marathon in just four hours and 23 minutes. He said that would
be his last marathon race, but then last October led 10 medical
school classmates across the finish line at the U.S. Marine Corps
Marathon. Dr. Glasofer will pursue a residency in internal medicine
and cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
An injury that might
have devastated some led Dr. Karen Greenberg, 26, of Cherry
Hill (Camden County), to pursue a medical
career. An excellent athlete and science student in high school,
Dr. Greenberg was three days from earning a spot as a freshman
starter on the lacrosse team at the University of North Carolina
when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. When
her physicians treated her more as a medical record than as a
patient, Dr. Greenberg, a biology major, resolved to become not
only a better athlete, but also a better physician than the ones
who treated her. After months of grueling rehabilitation, she
made it all the way back, winning awards as a member of the North
Carolina lacrosse team that twice competed for the national championship.
She also earned a spot in the Class of 2003 at the UMDNJ-School
of Osteopathic Medicine. Despite her demanding schedule, Dr. Greenberg
coached the Cherry Hill East High School girls' lacrosse team.
She will pursue a residency in emergency medicine at the UMDNJ-School
of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Marianne Holler,
43, of Mt. Laurel (Burlington County), saw
a lot of beautiful scenery in the mountains and rainforests on
her trip to Honduras this spring, but the one tree she will probably
never forget wasn't in a rainforest. It was painted on the wall
at the Casa Corazon orphanage in San Pedro Sula. Amid the lush
greenery of the painted tree, hand prints of every child at the
orphanage appear like tiny, ripe apples. All of the children at
Casa Corazon are infected with HIV. Some of the hand prints included
a small cross, signifying that those children have lost their
battle against the disease in the 10 years the orphanage has been
in existence. Dr. Holler, the only health care professional on
the trip, brought medical and dental supplies donated by faculty
and fellow students at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine
and by the parishioners at Queen of Peace Church in Hainesport.
Following graduation, Dr. Holler will pursue a residency in internal
medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Like many twins Archna
and Vandna Prasad, 24, of Jersey City (Hudson County), are
close friends who do almost everything together, so it's not surprising
that both will be receiving medical degrees this month. Exceptional
high school science students, they enrolled together in the joint
B.A./M.D. program sponsored by UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
and the College of New Jersey. Having each other to share the
challenges with helped. The Prasads completed the seven-year program
in just six years. Following graduation, the twins will have to
rely on cell phones and e-mail to keep in touch. Archna will complete
a one-year internship at Presbyterian Hospital at the University
of Pennsylvania before returning to UMDNJ- University Hospital
for a residency in ophthalmology. Vandna will head to New York
City for a residency in radiology at Sloan Kettering Memorial
As an eighth-grader
delivering newspapers in her neighborhood, Dr. Kathy Rizzo,
30, of Vineland (Cumberland County), knew
she wanted to be either a scientist or a doctor. Since she couldn't
decide she chose both, and ended up blazing an academic trail
for others to follow at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine.
She will be the first graduate in the only joint D.O./Ph.D. program
in the country. After two years of medical school, Dr. Rizzo took
a leave to begin a program jointly sponsored by the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) and the UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Her research there led to discoveries into chemotherapy-resistant
proteins in cancer cells and supported the requirements for earning
her doctorate degree from the UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical
Sciences. She then returned to the Stratford campus to complete
her two remaining years of medical school. At commencement, Dr.
Rizzo will receive a doctorate in molecular biology (Ph.D.) and
a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) degree. She will enter
a pathology residency program at the Medical College of Virginia
at Virginia Commonwealth University.
When Dr. Long Tran,
31, of Edison (Middlesex County), was nine years old, he and
his family lived in a refugee camp in Vietnam. His decision to
become a physician was deeply influenced by watching the physicians
in the camp provide compassionate care to refugee families day
after day in tough circumstances with little, if any, of the necessary
medical supplies. Eight months after being interred, a Baptist
church in San Antonio sponsored the Tran family to come to the
United States. When it was time to attend college, Dr. Tran picked
Southern Methodist University in Dallas and chose chemistry as
his major. Unfortunately, while he was a college student, his
father had a stroke which left him permanently disabled and unable
to work. The oldest of six siblings and committed to the importance
of higher education, Dr. Tran knew what he must do. He postponed
his dream of going to medical school, instead accepting a position
as a medicinal chemist at Novartis. His salary was used to pay
the tuition and other expenses of four of his siblings while they
attended college. Once his youngest sibling was in college, the
others picked up the financial responsibility. Finally, Dr. Tran
began studies at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He
will begin a general surgery residency program at the University
of Texas Southwest Medical School in Dallas.
For Dr. Ilan Weisberg,
28, of Ewing Township (Mercer County), a
lifelong wish to visit Siberia turned into a lesson on how a round
red rubber nose can be a useful tool in helping patients laugh.
Last summer, he was selected as one of two American
students and a dozen professional clowns to represent Dr. Patch
Adams's Gesundheit! Institute on a month-long, 15,000-mile train
trip to entertain the residents at hospitals, orphanages and senior
centers in remote areas of Siberia. At first, Dr. Weisberg was
uncomfortable in the clown costume he and his mother created,
but with tips from his travel companions, he quickly got used
to grease paint and balloon animals that the "ambassador clowns"
used to brighten the days of the patients. When he returned to
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, he began practicing a "little
bit of clown attitude" during his clinical training to help disarm
the patients. Following graduation, Dr. Weisberg plans a residency
in internal medicine at Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital
followed by a fellowship in infectious disease.