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CMED students still celebrate Match Day during quarantine

Elizabeth Godfrey, Kristen Carrillo-Kappus and Elise Edwards-Cavalieri all were paired with medical residencies this week.

Match Day is an event during which Central Michigan College of Medicine students gather with their friends and family to learn where they will perform their medical residencies. The students usually receive their envelope upon arrival, and at exactly noon, they would all open their envelopes and reveal which health center had chosen them.

Ten days before the ceremony, on March 10, the medical students received an email stating that Match Day had been canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of an envelope opening ceremony, they received an email at noon on March 20 disclosing their residency location.

Many medical students were heartbroken by the cancellation news. However, others got the chance to celebrate Match Day in personal, unique ways.

Kristen Carillo-Kappus

Medical student Kristen Carrillo-Kappus initially started her education intending to go into family medicine. However, after recognizing that she “always had a passion for women's health, equality and advocacy” she decided to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.

Carrillo-Kappus applied to 61 residencies. She received 13 interview offers and interviewed at 11 residencies all over the country, including Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas and Maryland.

When Carrillo-Kappus learned of the cancellation, she and her husband, Alex Kappus, decided to put on their own individual Match Day festivities.

This was the plan: At noon on Friday, March 20, Kappus would go into a separate room to read Carillo-Kapus’s email disclosing her match. Then he would write down the results, and seal it in an envelope for Carillo-Kappus to unveil. It was important for Carrillo-Kappus to let her husband be the first one to read her Match Day results.

“He was very nervous,” Carrillo-Kappus said, “but he took on the responsibility.”

However, Kappus had a few other surprises up his sleeve for his wife.

Friday morning, Carillo-Kappus woke up and went downstairs to make brunch before their celebration. But she noticed that something was different about her living room. Certain pictures and family portraits were taken down from the walls, and their tickets to the Match Day ceremony were taken off the fridge. Then, she discovered a blanket covering the entrance of a side room in their house. On the blanket, it read “Match Day 2020, Door opens @ 11:45 a.m. (please ensure each guest has a ticket)."

At 11:45, Carrillo-Kappus arrived at the side room and found Kappus standing there holding her guest, a teddy bear dressed in scrubs, and their two tickets. She stepped around the blanket and into the room to see her graduation regalia, celebratory banners and all of the pictures that were missing from the house on the table displayed as her guests. The pictures included her late grandparents, her parents, brothers, brothers- and sisters-in-law, and her closest friends.

“I was emotional and had tears even before the results were available,” Carrillo-Kappus said.

At exactly noon, Kappus left to go read the Match Day results email. He had to read it 10 times over exactly to make sure that he had read the news correctly. He wrote them down and put it in an envelope, licked it, sealed it shut and gave it to Carrillo-Kappus to open.

Carrillo-Kappus felt so surreal holding that envelope. The moment had finally come, she opened the letter.

“All I had to see were the first two letters: D-U,” Carrillo-Kappus said. “I jumped out of my chair, (and) squealed 'We’re going to Duke!.'"

Carrilo-Kappus matched into Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, which was the program that both she and her husband wanted most. This program is ranked fifth in the country out of 275 existing programs for training in OB-GYN, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2020 best medical school rankings.

“I interviewed at Duke in October of 2019 and I immediately felt like it was the right fit," Carrillo-Kappus said. “It is nothing short of an honor."

Before Match Day, Carrillo-Kappus and her husband had nothing set in stone for the future, as all of their plans depended on this outcome. Now, their future finally has a concrete path. Carrillo-Kappus is looking forward to treating patients and caring for women.

“I’m finally a doctor," Carrillo-Kappus said. “I look forward to proudly representing Central Michigan University College of Medicine."

Elizabeth Godfrey

Medical student Elizabeth Godfrey was initially interested in studying obstetrics, however, after falling in love with the required six-month family medicine program during her education at CMU, she decided her specialize in family medicine because of the various branches medicine she can use, including geriatrics, obstetrics and pediatrics.

“I was a little neurotic in my application process,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey applied to 50 residency programs across the country, including locations such as Oregon, Maine and Florida. She interviewed for 21 residencies.

Godfrey had been following the COVID-19 outbreak updates routinely, as it pertains to her career field, so she expected the Match Day ceremonies to be canceled. However, Match Day is an event that medical students across the country look forward to during their four years of medical school, so it was definitely still a disappointment, Godfrey said.

Godfrey and her husband, Michael, went back to their hometown of West Branch, Michigan, to celebrate Match Day with her parents, siblings and her in-laws. Everyone gathered to have lunch and celebrate at noon when Godfrey received the Match Day results email.

“I started crying instantly just because I was so happy,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey was chosen to practice family medicine at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

After falling for the unique demographics of Traverse City and the variety of patients that are available to treat both in both age and ethnic background, Godfrey put Munson at the top of her list. However, she was not certain that she would be accepted, as there were many students applying. But upon opening the letter, a wave of disbelief and excitement came over her.

The following days have been a whirlwind of emotions for Godfrey and her husband. They have already started looking for houses in Traverse City, and are so excited about what the future holds for them.

“I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up,” Godfrey said.

Elise Edwards-Cavalieri

Edwards-Cavalieri chose to go home to the Upper Peninsula to be with my family to celebrate the big news. Edwards-Cavalieri, her brother's family, her sister's family, her parents and her husband all dressed up in fancy clothes and gathered at her sister’s house. They went out and bought cupcakes and wine to celebrate. 

When the time came, at exactly noon on Friday, they all gathered around to watch Edwards-Cavalieri open the awaited email.

“It was actually very nerve-wracking,” Edwards-Cavalieri said.

Edwards-Cavalieri actually got the email notification on her phone before everyone was together. So she clutched her phone close to her chest until everyone was ready, to stop herself from peaking.

“It was torture! But I wanted everyone to hear it at the same time,” Edwards-Cavalieri said. 

When she finally opened the email, it wasn’t clear to Edwards-Cavalieri where she matched. She first saw the letters “CMU” so she thought she matched there. Then after rereading it, Edwards-Cavalieri blurted out “Wait, that’s where I go to school! I matched at MAHEC!"

Edwards-Cavalieri matched in the OB-GYN program at Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I was so excited and we all jumped around and screamed for like 10 minutes straight,” Edwards-Cavalieri said.

Edwards-Cavalieri is looking forward to working with the close-knit family of OB residents, learning and training as a surgeon and seeing how medicine is practiced in a different state. 

Edwards-Cavalieri has lived in Michigan and Wisconsin her whole life, but she is ready for a new adventure in a new state.

“Asheville will be an amazing place for outdoor recreation and small city living," Edwards-Cavalieri said. "I am so excited for this new stage and to finally be a doctor!”