College of Medicine holds Match Day unlike any other

Ereni Katsaggellos talks to friends over FaceTime in her apartment as the College of Medicine holds a Match Day celebration online Friday, March 20, 2020. (Photo: Joshua Clark)

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced college campuses across the country to cancel on-campus events, students and faculty in the College of Medicine realized they’d have to hold a Match Day celebration unlike any other before it. The annual event, where future physicians across the country simultaneously learn where they will continue their training, was scheduled to be held at the UIC Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum, but in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, this year’s class would have to celebrate together virtually March 20.

“This darkness around COVID-19, I want to no way and overshadow the momentous nature of Match Day,” Dr. Mark Rosenblatt, executive dean of the College of Medicine said in a video message to the Class of 2020. “This is really an exciting time for you. It defines the beginning of the most important part of your professional career, the residency training, which will transform you into the best, most capable, caring humanistic doctors around.”

Sheila Wright, Adam Wright-Chisem and Ereni Katsaggellos FaceTime with Adam’s twin brother, Joshua, in their apartment on Match Day Friday, March 20, 2020.

At their apartment Friday morning, Adam Wright-Chisem and Ereni Katsaggelos poured sparkling wine for a small gathering of close friends and family as they organized FaceTime calls with out-of-town relatives. Congratulatory banners and streamers were hung for the occasion.

Couples can request the residency matching program to place them in the same city or region, though there is no guarantee. Wright-Chisem and Katsaggelos, who met during orientation their first year, hoped this would be the case but were prepared for other scenarios.

As the clock neared 11 a.m., the couple anxiously checked their emails with everyone watching. A brief silence was broken with joyous exclamation and tears. They both matched at their top choices in Los Angeles — Katsaggelos in family medicine at UCLA and Wright-Chisem in orthopaedic surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Ereni Katsaggellos and Adam Wright-Chisem celebrate with a small group of close family after both discovered they matched at their top choices in Los Angeles.

“LA definitely stuck out as the top choice. There was a lot of compromise further down on our list,” Katsaggelos said. “We’re so grateful none of that really matters now.”

After learning where they would embark on their next level of training, UIC’s class of 174 students exchanged congratulatory messages and pictures over social media and virtual meeting spaces.

And while it wasn’t the Match Day they had imagined, Katsaggelos and Wright-Chisem were happy with the way it turned out.

“Having matched at our number one choice with friends and family around still made it a special day,” Wright-Chisem said.

Adam Wright-Chisem and Ereni Katsaggellos celebrate match day in their apartment Friday, March 20, 2020.

While they’re nervous about starting their careers during these uncertain times, they say they feel ready for the challenge.

“It’s made me even more sure that this was the right path for me,” Katsagellos said. “And also really proud to have a set of skills and to be acquiring more soon to be able to help during all of this.”

Wright-Chisem spoke of the admiration he has for people like his mother Sheila Wright, a nurse, who make outstanding sacrifices to take care of patients.

“We’re walking into a time where they need people more than ever to go the extra distance and give more of themselves,” he said. “To be in a position where I can actually help and participate in what’s going on in the world, I feel very grateful for that opportunity.”

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