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WesternU College of Podiatric Medicine has 100% residency placement rate for 11th consecutive year 

by Stephen Quintero

March 21, 2024

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Match Day 2024 for the graduating podiatric medical students in Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Podiatric Medicine (CPM) was special indeed. This year’s event was held on Friday, March 15, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. 

Celebrating with family, friends, faculty, and staff, you could see the smiles, hear the love, and feel the excitement as the Class of 2024 continued an extraordinary placement streak for CPM. Even more notable, this special group of students earned residency placement at some of the nation’s most prestigious medical centers and teaching hospitals. 

College of Podiatric Medicine Dean Jonathan Labovitz, DPM, FACFAS, CHCQM, expressed his enthusiasm and gratification for the students. 

“I am extremely proud of the Class of 2024. They’ve dedicated themselves to becoming exceptional podiatric physicians, which was evident in their successful match day,” he said. “This class placed at top programs across the country, and we all enjoyed seeing their passion and excitement. On behalf of everyone at CPM, we are also happy to report that 100% of our students matched for the 11th consecutive year!” 

CPM students’ personal endurance, hard work and self-sacrifice served them well as they placed at some of the nation’s most honored and respected medical centers and teaching schools: Baylor University (TX), Chino Valley Medical Center (CA), Georgetown University (DC), Harvard Medical School (MA), Indiana University Medical Center (IN), Long Island Jewish Medical Center (NY), Ochsner Clinic (LA), Stanford (CA), University of California, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Two people sitting, smiling
CPM student Douglas Weng (r) with Michelle Yen learning his residency will be at Mt. Auburn, a Harvard Medical Training School, on March 15, 2024 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

“My parents would be so happy right now,” said fourth-year CPM student Douglas Weng, who will be doing his residency at Mt. Auburn Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. “From day one at podiatric medical school, my entire goal was to become a Harvard-trained physician and now it is happening. My parents have always wanted me to be a doctor and my parents always wanted me to go to Harvard. I was not the best student as a kid, so they are extra happy now.” 

For CPM student Savannah Santiago, a childhood dream and family legacy brought joy and smiles to her and her parents as they learned she will complete her residency training at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital-Indianapolis. 

One person sitting, smiling
CPM student Savannah Santiago was all smiles after learning her residency will be at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital-Indianapolis, on March 15, 2024 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

“I am so excited. I couldn’t be more overwhelmed by the gratitude. I think WesternU has done an incredible job of preparing me for this moment,” Santiago said. “I went into residency interviews really strong. I am so excited to get my No. 1 choice. I am going to a great hospital that has an amazing director. I am going to be getting the best training I possibly could. I set my goals for the program that would best prepare me for the best surgeon I could be and I am certainly doing that.” 

Santiago’s mother, Kristen, said she is proud of the legacy that her daughter will continue. Kristen is a nursing director for an emergency pediatrics unit. Savannah’s grandmother was a neurosurgery nurse and her grandfather had a career in medical sales. 

“She has always been interested in helping people. I knew she would be a nurse or a physician,” shared Kristen. Savannah was heading to the Peace Corps when COVID shut the world down. Devastated, Kristen thought this may be the time for Savannah to apply to medical schools. 

“Everything happens for a reason,” Kristen said. “You might know what those reasons are at the time but something beautiful comes from it.” 

Savannah was happy to share this moment with her parents. 

“We have lots of pictures of me reading medical books and wearing white coats. My mom was the most phenomenal example growing up. She always worked. She was calm in a crisis. I saw her help in emergency situations numerous times,” Savannah said. “I knew I wanted to grow up and do that. I grew up working with my dad. Working with my hands. Podiatry is a perfect combination of that.”

One person standing, smiling
CPM Assistant Dean for Clinical Education and Faculty Affairs Rebecca Moellmer kicking off the celebration and welcoming CPM students and guests to Match Day 2024, on March 15, 2024 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

CPM Assistant Dean for Clinical Education and Faculty Affairs Rebecca Moellmer, DPM, FACFAS, FAAPSM, DABPM, reflected on the celebration and the importance of having a good team. 

“Everyone at CPM looks forward to Match Day each year. It’s a culmination of faculty’s dedication, staff’s attention to detail, and the students’ diligence,” she said. “This year was one of my favorite Match Days because the students and families were so incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to share it with each other. It was amazing to see it all pay off!” 

Match Day is a nationwide event. Across the entire country, on the same day, at the same time, podiatric medical students find out simultaneously where they have been placed for residency. Since 1976, the Central Application Service for Podiatric Residencies has coordinated this annual rite of passage for podiatric medical and surgical residencies. 

For some students, Match Day is a dream come true: becoming a physician and heading home. 

The moment was special professionally and personally for CPM student Claudia Barajas and her fiancé Alex Angstrom. The two first met in Massachusetts while she was doing her externship at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). After spending four years at WesternU, Barajas will do her residency at CHA, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital.

Two people standing, smiling
CPM student Claudia Barajas (l) and fiancé Alex Angstrom (r) celebrating her Harvard Medical Teaching School residency at Cambridge Health Alliance at Match Day on March 15, 2024 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

“There was so much going through my mind. Honestly, I am so excited and thrilled for what the future holds. I know God has his Hands on this,” Barajas said. “I am very excited for the doors that will open. Alex lives in Cambridge. We already have a house there. We are getting married in June.” 

Fourth-year CPM student Harshvir Grewal learned he will be in residency at his top choice, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, affiliated with Zucker Medical School at Hofstra University, and going home to New York.

One person celebrating, hand in hair, smiling
CPM student Harshvir Grewal celebrating and sharing his joy with his residency appointment at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, affiliated with Zucker Medical School at Hofstra University, at Match Day on March 15, 2024 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Claremont. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

“All four years led up to this point, I wanted to match with my No. 1 spot and it was my dream from the start. It just came to fruition,” Grewal said. “I am going back home. I am super excited. My greatest support has come from my family and friends because of them I am here today. I can’t be thankful enough without their help and support.” 

And when Grewal opened his envelope, he jumped out of his chair, raised his hands above his head and then embraced everyone at the table and in the room. 

“The more you share, the more it multiplies, especially with happiness,” Grewal said. “I just wanted to share it with everyone.” 

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