Brown medical students meet their matches

At Match Day 2024, students from the Warren Alpert Medical School celebrated the next stage of their careers and their lives.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Emotions ran high as more than 120 students at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School gathered with friends and family on Friday, March 15, to learn where they would be matched for residency, and where their path in medicine would take them next.

The Match Day celebration is an emotional endpoint for fourth-year students, as it caps years of intense study and coursework as well as an arduous nine-month residency application and interviewing process. At precisely noon, amid a balloon drop and a live band, students found out where they will spend the next several years of their lives and careers, training in their specialty.

Before students tore open the envelopes containing their matches, Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, dean of medicine and biological sciences, addressed a crowd packed into two floors of the medical school atrium.

Match Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the many sacrifices made by the students and their champions, such as faculty, family and friends, Jain said. He emphasized that no matter where the students matched, each one of them would go on to accomplish great things.

“It’s how you invest in yourself that defines you,” Jain said.

Brown medical student David Loftus said that four years ago, he was anxious about how he would perform in medical school following a decade-long gap in his formal education, including a deployment overseas as part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force. But he feels that his time at the Warren Alpert Medical School reinforced that he is on the right path.

A competitive skier and former intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy who grew up near Syracuse, New York, Loftus said he chose to pursue neurosurgery because of the opportunity to foster a strong relationship with patients.

“Although it’s a surgical subspecialty with incredible requirements of technical skill, it also demands the full spectrum of doctoring,” he said.

During the match reveal, Loftus learned the next step in his life’s adventure: the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Loftus had one word to describe his feelings:


Ghazal Aghagoli, who was born in Iran and immigrated to Vancouver with her family when she was 12, said her choice to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology was deeply personal.

“I fell in love with the field of OB/GYN not only because of the impact that it has on women’s health, but also due to its essential work in advocating for women's right to health care,” Aghagoli said.

While at Brown, Aghagoli co-founded F-1 Doctors, the first national peer-to-peer mentorship website for international students in health careers. She said she aims to continue using this resource, as well as her own training, to advocate for patients’ access to health care.

Aghagoli was thrilled to learn that she’s going to Duke University School of Medicine, while her partner, Brown medical student James Heinl, matched at the nearby University of North Carolina.

“We could not be more excited,” Aghagoli said.

Dreaming big, trying new things and forging their own paths

Sarah Nuss of Wayland, Massachusetts, said her interest in global health led her toward otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery). Her experiences abroad, including a year of working in Rwanda, solidified her mindset. Her father’s work as a pediatric otolaryngologist and her mother’s pediatric work across the globe sparked her initial interest, but she credits them with encouraging her to forge her own path.

“Very early on I became more drawn clinically to surgical fields in general and ended up exploring various subspecialties,” Nuss said. “I did an ENT rotation and loved the blend of surgical problem-solving, complex anatomy and working with your hands. And forming longitudinal relationships with patients was wonderful.”

Nuss said that her medical school mentors encouraged her to “dream big” with a career at the intersection of global health and ENT. While pursuing her degree, she led research to develop a global consensus of priority ENT procedures, and she plans to continue to focus on global health in a residency at Harvard Medical School.

“I’m very excited — it was my first choice!” Nuss said.

John Cotoia joined Brown as part of the inaugural Brown Gateways to Medicine, Health Care and Research master’s degree program. Cotoia, who uses they/them pronouns, will begin a career in family medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine — in the same city as their partner, who will go to the University of Chicago.

As the child of a U.S. Marine, Cotoia moved to 18 new homes, which regularly exposed them to new people and places. Cotoia said that their adaptability made them a natural fit for family medicine, which involves treating diverse populations and conditions.

“I’m thankful to have my family and friends present for this moment, and I’m excited to make them and myself proud in a career of family medicine,” Cotoia said.

Cotoia added that completing Brown’s scholarly concentration in LGBTQ+ health care and advocacy will greatly benefit their practice.

“Providing services like gender-informed care, reproductive health care and mental health care will help me serve not only the queer population, but everyone and anyone,” Cotoia said.

For some Warren Alpert Medical School students, the anticipation of the residency match ended months ago. On Dec. 13, Army 2nd Lt. Serica Hallstead, who will pursue pathology, and her fiancé, Army 2nd Lt. Alex Albright, who is specializing in orthopedic surgery, learned they’d been matched to San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Hallstead, of Canandaigua, New York, said she originally planned to focus on psychiatry, but fell in love with pathology during her third-year clerkship.

“The human body is a whole universe under a microscope that you can’t see otherwise, and I just found that absolutely magical,” Hallstead said. “The people within the department and the field itself were absolutely the kinds of people I wanted to surround myself with. These were the detectives in medicine.”

While at Brown, Hallstead accomplished a diverse set of personal and professional goals, which included developing an orientation to help students acclimate to autopsy procedures and playing violin in the Providence Medical Orchestra and serving on its leadership team.

“I’m proud to be from Brown,” Hallstead said. “I know it might just be one little stepping stone in the road of my whole life, but it’s been a meaningful one.”

A full match list for the Warren Alpert Medical School’s soon-to-be Class of 2024 graduates is available on the school’s web site