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Annual White Coat Ceremony made virtual on short notice

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:33 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - More than 150 first-year medical students at Carver College of Medicine got their white lab coats Friday as part of the 27th White Coat Ceremony.

“It was surreal getting the white coat,” said Inna Couri of Plymouth, Minnesota. “Several years ago, I didn’t know if this was ever going to happen.”

“I’m happy they were able to have this type of celebration,” said Ravina Vasanwala of Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Couri said she didn’t know if she would ever be in this position. She lived in an orphanage in Russia, where she was cared for by physicians. She was adopted when she was two and moved to Plymouth. Each student had their own story about why they wanted to become a physician.

“I grew up in rural Indianola,” said Nadeline Fitzhugh. “We didn’t have a hospital in it. So, I wanted to give back to a smaller community that was medically underserved.”

Support for the big event wasn’t allowed inside. Parents, grandparents, and friends learned this week they couldn’t go inside Hancher Auditorium.

“The girls were disappointed,” Jolene Teske. “They worked hard to get to this place, and now they can’t have the parents and grandparents to celebrate with them.”

Jolene spent the afternoon outside the ceremony, tailgating with friends and family. She said she understood that with COVID-19 cases rising, the changes were to help keep people safe, but the ceremony didn’t seem to have many people wearing masks, and Kinnick Stadium was expected to be filled with football fans soon.

“A little disappointing that we were outside, but we just had to make the best of it,” Teske.

Though support systems watched from home or waited outside, the support was felt by the students.

“The fact that we had a ceremony at all was special,” said Fitzhugh.

“We know we have to be careful with COVID-19,” said Vasanwala. “We signed up to be part of the medical field.”

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