Alumni Gather for Alumni Weekend 2023

Medical school alumni returned to campus Sept. 22-24 for Alumni Weekend 2023, which included alumni awards, class reunions and celebrating the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP).

Group photo at Alumni Weekend '23
Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD (CAMED’99’99), Heidi Abdelhady, MD (CAMED’98), Reshma Kewalramani, MD (CAMED’98, CAS’98) and Sarita Mohanty, MD, MPH (CAMED’98).

The weekend began Friday, Sept. 22, with a luncheon recognizing the trailblazing career of 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Reshma Kewalramani, MD (CAS’98, CAMED’98), the first woman to serve as chief executive officer of a major biotech company. Held in Hiebert Lounge, the luncheon was attended by Kewalramani’s former classmates and professors from her time at the institution, current faculty and students, alumni and her husband and parents.

Former Alumni Board President Heidi Abdelhady, MD’98, introduced Kewalramani as her peer from their days together at school, then hosted a question-and-answer session discussing Kewalramani’s life and career as president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company. As the event closed, Abdelhady announced the Alumni Board’s newest president, Demetrios Vavvas, MD’99.

Photo of Heidi Abdelhady, MD, and Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD
Heidi Abdelhady, MD (CAMED’98) and Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD (CAMED’99’99) with the gavel signifying Heidi passing her role as Alumni Board President to Demetrios.

The 50th reunion dinner was held Friday evening for the Class of 1973 in Hiebert Lounge with remarks from Assistant Dean for Alumni Affairs Heather Miselis, MD, and Dean Karen Antman, MD, welcoming them back to campus.

Nearby, EMSSP alumni and current students gathered at Doña Habana restaurant in the South End to honor the program’s longtime coordinator, Malissia Evans, who retired last June after 38 years of service. Since 1982, this early assurance program has partnered with historically black colleges and universities, and, more recently with schools with large Latinx and Pacific Islands populations, to ease the transition into medical school.

Group shot Class of '03
Members of Class of 2003.

At the same time as these events, a dozen members of the Class of 2003, commandeered a section of the well-known Back Bay hideaway, Clery’s. Reunion festivities, led by Mark Buzzelli, MD (CAMED’99, ’03), and Alyson Hedgepeth, MD’03, resulted in a memorable evening there. They returned to campus for a more formal, but equally lively, dinner on campus the following evening.   

On Saturday, Sept. 23, a coffee and conversation with Dean Antman was held on campus, inviting alumni to ask questions about the institution as it moves forward. Abdelhady said she felt the event was clarifying for her and her fellow alumni. “[Alumni are] looking at the geopolitical environment and bringing it back to our home base,” said Abdelhady, “I think Dr. Antman and the team are doing a terrific job navigating this rough terrain that we’re living in.”

Student and staff-led tours of the campus followed, visiting spots like the newly updated team-based learning center on L-4, Gross Anatomy Lab and the Alumni Medical Library. Alumni appreciated learning about the current curriculum and enjoyed reminiscing and taking selfies while visiting Bakst Auditorium.

The EMSSP 40th anniversary celebration was held Saturday evening with the program’s alumni and current students. Following a welcome from Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion and EMSSP Director Ebonie Woolcock, MD, MPH, (CAMED’10, SPH’10) and Dean Antman, the event revisited EMSSP’s history before inviting student and alumni panelists to share their experiences in the program and their careers after their graduation. One of the event’s panelists, Dallas Reed, MD’10, spoke about the program’s importance to her.

“I really owe my professional career to EMSSP…I have lifelong friends, lifelong colleagues from this program. I think it is probably the single most important reason why I’m still involved with the school,” said Reed, chief of genetics, medical geneticist and an obstetrician/gynecologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

The anniversary celebration culminated with honoring Class of 2011’s Frederick Powell, MD, PhD, with the EMSSP Champion Award, recognizing his achievements throughout his career. Prior to introducing Powell, now an anesthesiologist and critical care physician at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia, former EMSSP director Samantha Kaplan, MD, MPH, commented on his continued dedication to the program.

“[Powell] is, and has been, amazingly committed to the program. He understands exactly why it exists and what it can do, but also what it takes to be successful,” said Kaplan, “And he’s brought all that expertise consistently through the years to the forefront, to be able to make sure the program is successful, and the students are successful.” Powell addressed the attendees virtually from his home in Georgia.

Saturday night’s reception and reunion dinner in Hiebert Lounge brought alumni from the classes of 1963, 1968, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2013 together enjoying dinner with the cityscape view.

The weekend’s final event was held on Sunday, Sept. 24, as EMSSP alumni with their families and current students enjoyed brunch celebrating the program’s history and continued success.