Wright State Medical School to graduate Friday


Audra Horomanski

Augustine Hong

Cody Adkinson

The Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine is set to graduate on Friday.

Ralla Shrit

Topaz Sampson

Zach Il’Giovine

For Greene County News

FAIRBORN — The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine will hold its graduation ceremony 6 p.m. Friday, May 22 at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton. The graduating class includes 95 medical students.

The event can be live streamed at http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T00907&video=131028. Coverage of live events begins about 15 minutes prior to the event start time.

Each student’s medical journey is unique. Here are a few of their stories.

Becoming a missionary doctor

When Cody Adkinson was a medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, he volunteered with Catholic Social Services, serving the Colombian refugee community in Dayton. Adkinson, who had spent a semester in Costa Rica, recalled the friendliness of the Costa Rican people.

“People were very friendly and helpful,” said Adkinson, who is from Bellevue, Ohio, a small farming and manufacturing town in northwest Ohio. “I wanted to be like that for people coming to America.”

The Colombian refugees became his family away from home. As an interpreter, he helped with many things, including mail, doctor’s appointments and job applications. He played soccer with the children, and took them to Young’s Jersey Dairy and trick-or-treating at Halloween.

“I wanted to be a good influence on the Colombian teenagers and younger kids,” said Adkinson, who was inducted into the medical school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society in 2014. “They are adjusting to school and life here, and they are caught between the expectations of two different cultures.”

He was very active in Fuentes de Agua Viva, a bilingual church in Dayton. In addition, he volunteered at Reach Out of Montgomery County, a health care facility that provides free medical services for the uninsured and underserved.

At Boonshoft, he participated in the Global Health Initiative and International Health Program. He served with the Salvadoran Association of Rural Health in El Salvador. He recently returned from an elective in Myanmar, where he was learning alongside a mobile clinic team of American physicians. In July, he will begin his internal medicine residency at the University of Miami/Palm Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he will work part of the time in a Spanish-speaking clinic. He would like to become a missionary doctor after completing his residency.

Providing care at home and abroad

When Augustine Hong was a master’s student studying global medicine at the University of Southern California, he went to Uganda. He volunteered at a nongovernmental organization and worked in a mobile clinic. While working in the makeshift pharmacy in a village that was more than 80 percent HIV-positive, he passed out vitamins and antihelmintics, medicine used to destroy parasitic worms. He was overcome by the villagers’ gratitude.

“I remember the jaja, or the grandmother leader of the village, shaking my hand. Her distinct look of gratitude touched me,” said Hong, who is from Toledo. “Through this trip, I realized that being part of a team and working to provide health care is something I wanted to pursue.”

While at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Hong was a part of a number of student groups and associations, serving as president on a couple of them, and he also volunteered with Reach Out of Montgomery County and participated in an Area Health Education Center summer internship. He recently returned from a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he participated in a mobile clinic, worked in a hospital and worked with diabetic patients.

This summer, he will begin a residency in internal medicine at Case Western/Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland. After his residency, he is considering pursuing some type of fellowship. He would like to apply his training to help provide care to people in developing countries.

“I saw the variety of roles that physicians fill and decided that internal medicine was a good fit for me,” he said. “I love the interactions with patients and being able to attempt to provide some kind of calm in the storm of a hospital stay.”

Serving the underserved

As Audra Horomanski graduates from the Boonshoft School of Medicine, she is counting down the days until she can start her internal medicine residency this summer at Stanford University Medical Center in California.

“The best part about being at Stanford Hospital will be learning from world-renowned physicians and seeing patients with rare diseases,” said Horomanski, who grew up in Hudson, Ohio. “I also am looking forward to working at the San Jose County Hospital and the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs, which will provide me with experience working with a variety of patients.”

During her time at Boonshoft, Horomanski and a fellow classmate, Udit Singhal, started a Student Interest Group in Oncology. They wanted to broaden the exposure medical students have to careers in oncology.

“Oncologists have a unique kind of practice with a special population of patients,” she said. “By starting the group, we wanted to have physicians talk to medical students about what they do.”

As she begins her residency at Stanford, Horomanski says she will miss her classmates, faculty and the atmosphere at the school.

“The amazing faculty of the Boonshoft School of Medicine foster a noncompetitive community that helps us all become the best possible physicians,” Horomanski said. “I love that I trained with people who haven’t forgotten the humanity in medicine.”

Promoting patient safety in health care

Zach Il’Giovine considers coming to the Boonshoft School of Medicine one of the best decisions of his life.

“There is something about this place that is different,” said Il’Giovine, who is from Concord, Ohio. “There is some quality in the student the school attracts and accepts that is hard to objectively measure.”

Il’Giovine found that Boonshoft’s alumni reached out to him and his friends to see if there was any help or advice they could provide during the residency match process.

“You just don’t have that at other medical schools,” said Il’Giovine, who married his wife Clare just before graduation. “We have developed a network of Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine graduates across the country who are looking out for each other.”

Il’Giovine will begin his residency this summer in internal medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

While at Boonshoft, Il’Giovine volunteered with Reach Out of Montgomery County. He also participated in Student to Student, a community education program run by the medical students, and went on volunteer trips to New Orleans and India.

Removing the burden of mental illness

Topaz Sampson entered medical school convinced that she wanted to become a physician in emergency medicine. She even sat in the front row of every Emergency Medicine Interest Group meeting.

All that changed during a psychiatry rotation at the Dayton VA Medical Center she did as part of her medical school education. She helped treat a patient with borderline personality disorder. Through treatment, the patient was able to transform his life and rebuild relationships with his family members, including his daughter.

“This patient’s transformation made me fall in love with psychiatry,” said Sampson, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta. “Once I got a taste of the burden of mental illness and how rewarding it was to help remove the burden, I was hooked.”

Sampson, born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, New York, is heading to Houston this summer to pursue a residency in psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine. Baylor’s psychiatry program had what she was looking for — the combination of community outreach and clinics that serve the LGBT and maternity populations in an underserved area. She is looking forward to participating in a resident-run outreach program, where she will speak about mental illness at community schools.

A community leader and advocate for underserved groups, Sampson volunteered at Reach Out of Montgomery County. She participated in a service learning student-initiated experience in Guyana, working at an HIV care and treatment program.

On a national level, she has served as the national president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organization focused on the needs of underrepresented minority medical and pre-medical students.

A leader in the community

Community activism has always been important to Ralla Shrit.

“Growing up in a liberal Muslim household in Southwest Ohio was neither easy nor simple,” said Shrit, who is from Centerville, Ohio. “My family was never truly welcome in a mosque, yet we did not belong in a church either.”

Her family found their spirituality in community work, said Shrit, who will begin a residency in surgery this summer at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. She says it’s important for those in the medical profession to connect with their communities.

“Physicians have a unique leadership role in a hospital,” she said, “but we have to earn that role in the community.”

While at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Ralla Shrit could be found leading and organizing various events to benefit the Greater Dayton community.

As president of Phi Rho Sigma Medical Society, a service organization, she organized and participated in several events, including a canned food drive, organ week, blood drive and Day of Caring pancake brunch. She volunteered at Camp Restore in New Orleans to help repair and rebuild schools, parks and homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. She also volunteered at Reach Out of Montgomery County.

Within the Dayton community, Shrit served as a teaching assistant in the Interactive Journey Immersion in Medicine for high school students at Miami Valley School. She volunteered with A Kid Again, an organization that fosters hope, happiness and healing for families raising kids with life-threatening illnesses.

Story by Heather Maurer for Wright State University.