Members of the inaugural class of the UCR School of Medicine took their seats Monday morning for a week of orientation before the real business of learning begins.
Many of the 50 students are graduates of UCR. Others come from such schools as Harvard, Yale, Loyola Marymount and UC San Diego. Most have real-world experience ranging from volunteering in emergency rooms to serving in the military to teaching high school.
Leila Magistrado, 22, grew up in the Inland Empire and hopes to serve the surrounding communities once she graduates as a physician. She and other students mingled in a lounge area of the school, downing coffee and danishes before the morning’s official welcome.
“It feels like it’s not real yet,” Magistrado said. “Is this really happening? It’s a very elated happy feeling that you made the right choice and everything’s going to be alright.”
Like many of her colleagues, Cindy Tawfik, 23, has wanted to be a doctor from a young age. A family member died from pancreatic cancer when she was 5.
“I went up to my uncle and said, ‘I’m going to be a doctor and find a cure for cancer,’ Tawfik recalled. “He’s been calling me Dr. Cindy since I was 5 years old. Now it’s true.”
Her first day of medical school, she said, “is a little overwhelming. But I’m ready to start.”
Neal Schiller, senior associate dean of student affairs and a biomedical sciences professor, led the official welcome, providing the students with some perspective.
“I’ve been here since 1979 thinking about a medical school,” Schilling said of his UCR tenure. “It’s been a tremendous journey. This is a momentous time and the start of many great things to happen here.”
Dr. Paul Lyons, senior associate dean of education, said reality is beginning to sink in for the school’s faculty as well as the students.
“Now we have to deliver,” Lyons said of the staff.
“It’s exciting,” he added. “Holy cow.