Two soon-to-be UConn School of Medicine graduates successfully early matched into competitive medical residencies in the field of ophthalmology.
They now have a few weeks head start before National Match Day, Friday, March 17 when their fellow medical students in the Class of 2023 learn their residency destinies. Match Day festivities will be held in-person for the first time at the School of Medicine since COVID-19’s start.
Headed to Yale
One of the excited fourth-year medical students experiencing an early match was Amisha Dave, 26, from Sandy Hook. She has finally met her match, and in her very own home state of Connecticut, and is headed to nearby Yale New Haven Health for ophthalmology residency training after graduation.
“It is a true honor to join the many physician graduates from UConn School of Medicine in caring for the people of Connecticut. Match Day is what every medical student has been working towards throughout medical school and is the culmination of our hard work,” says Dave, the first in her family to graduate from medical school. “The early match is especially nice because I can start planning for the next phase of my career.”
Before applying to UConn medical school, she graduated from UConn with a degree in biomedical engineering (ENG ‘18). Also, interestingly during medical school between her second and third year she took a non-traditional research year at the National Eye Institute as part of the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program.
“I knew that I wanted to specialize in a field that worked with technology, embraced innovation, and had opportunities to conduct artificial intelligence research,” Dave says. “I learned how AI was being used to screen for diabetic retinopathy. This led me to seek out shadowing opportunities within the UConn Health Department of Ophthalmology here to explore the field further and I was sold.”
Dave also chose ophthalmology not only for its cutting-edge technology and surgeries but because she loves the long-term relationships she gets to build with her patients of all ages and the ability to diagnose diseases just by looking into a patient’s eye.
“My favorite thing about ophthalmology is the ability to almost immediately improve a patient’s quality of life with cataract surgery,” says Dave. “It is so rewarding to see a patient gain back their vision and independence after a short 15-minute surgery.”
And this two-time Husky highly recommends UConn medical school to others.
“The best part of my UConn School of Medicine experience is the people,” she stresses. “I’d recommend UConn School of Medicine to others because we not only receive excellent clinical training, but also have great faculty who are constantly looking out for the students. The faculty here go out of their way to ensure you can make the most of your medical school experience.”
Dave adds: “Coming out of UConn School of Medicine, I feel well prepared to start caring for patients during residency and my career.”
Heading to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Ezigbobiara Umejiego, 37, of Atlanta who is originally from Nigeria is ‘ecstatic’ about his match too.
“I am going into ophthalmology at Howard University. I cannot think of a more humbling and memorable way for me to kick-off Black History Month celebration, but to find out that I am heading to an HBCU to begin my residency training,” says Umejiego who can’t wait for the unique privilege of caring for the urban underserved in Washington, D.C.
His mother’s personal battle with bilateral visually significant cataracts sparked his initial interest in vision health. Plus, his interest in the ophthalmology specialty was solidified after shadowing UConn Health Ophthalmologist Dr. Elizabeth Simmons and vision researcher Dr. Royce Mohan.
Umejiego is calling on those wishing to become future doctors to apply to UConn for medical school.
“You can learn the science of medicine at any medical school within and outside the United States. However, if you want to learn and practice the art of medicine in a collegial, supportive, and uplifting environment, then you should not look any further than UConn School of Medicine,” he stresses.
And why does he love UConn School of Medicine so much?
“The spirit of camaraderie among fellow students and the supportive environment that the faculty and staff foster within the school. There is an avalanche of opportunities to continue to pursue other interests within and outside medicine, whether in scholarship, service, or leadership.”
And thanks to his UConn medical education Umejiego feels ready for the next step in his career and helping patients in need.
Umejiego shares: “My diverse experiences at UConn have provided me with a solid foundation that will allow me to thrive in residency and beyond, and it has equipped me with the tools to innovate solutions needed to improve access to quality care for patients in low-resource settings, locally and globally.”
He is also proud to be part of the School of Medicine’s more than 50-year history.
“It is amazing that at UConn, you do not have to look far to see alums, like Dr. Marja Hurley, who embody what it means to live UConn’s incredible legacy and continue to inspire former, current, and future students to contribute to this legacy,” Umejiego says.
In medical school Umejiego was proudly involved in the Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP) founded and directed by Hurley, along with CT AHEC (especially, the Urban Service Track/AHEC and the Migrant Farm Worker Clinic). He loves how these programs have created opportunities for medical students to serve the local communities across the state and inspire both students from within and outside Connecticut to not only pursue health-related careers at UConn, but to stay and serve residents of the state.
“I cannot overemphasize the influence that these programs have on students and within communities across the state. As such, they deserve our continued and unwavering support.”
The two students are being applauded by Dr. Melissa Held, Associate Dean for Medical Student Affairs at UConn School of Medicine.
“We are so proud of both of these students,” says Held. “They have worked so hard to get to this point. Their ophthalmology residency matches are a reflection of their hard work, dedication, and passion.”