UICOMP Fourth Year Students React to 'Match Day' Reveal

Mar 17, 2017

Fourth year medical students anxiously ripped into envelopes during Match Day in Peoria and across the country on Fri. It’s a hallmark stop on their medical career journey, as students learn where they’ll spend residency after graduation.

The University of Illinois at Peoria Match Day event was at Embassy Suites' conference center in East Peoria. 54 students matched in 16 different medical specialties, and the group will be spread across 27 states. Six will stay in Peoria to do residencies with UICOMP. 

JJ Valverde celebrates with family far and near, after opening his envelope that revealed he matched at his first choice, UC Riverside in California.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

At lucky table number 13, J.J. Valverde sat with two iphones and an ipad propped up, facing toward him. He was video chatting with family and friends in California, where he hopes to end up.  

Valverde calls today "an emotional roller coaster."

“Really it’s just a culmination of everything we’ve been working for and studying for," Valverde said. 

A few minutes later, the familiar faces on the screens anxiously watched him tear into the envelope.
Valverde got his first choice: Psychiatry at UC Riverside in California. 

“I’m so happy. I get to go home, I get to be with my friends and family. It’s amazing,” he said, through tears of joy. 

His classmate, Chaiemela Ubagharaji,  is headed to Bloomington, Ind., where she'll practice internal medicine at Indiana University. 

“Today, I was pretty relaxed, actually. I decided wherever I end up, it’s going to be good for me,” Ubagharaji said. In addition to practicing medicine in an American hospital following residency, Ubagharaji says she plans on regularly volunteering for medical missions abroad in countries like Nigeria, where her family is from. 

A map depicting the future destination of 54 UICOMP students. Three students did not match, but they still have a window to "scramble" for available residencies.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Dr. Sara Rusch, regional dean at UICOMP, says many students in this year’s class are engaged in issues, like advocating for public health policy and working with low-income patient populations.

“Despite the politics and the administration issues and everything else, in the end run, it’s each generation brings that same passion for improving the health of the patients they take care of,” Rusch said. 

Rusch says calls that passion the “saving grace” of medicine.