Graduating UCI medical students Miriam McQuade and Kyle Barbour are relieved to discover they'll both be going to Rochester. UCI Medical school graduates opened their envelopes to see where they will be spending their residencies at Match Day festivities. Steve Zylius/UCI

On March 16, nearly 30,000 graduating medical students around the country participated in annual Match Day ceremonies. At UCI, 99 of them gathered in the Bren Events Center for the festive, emotional event. They won’t actually receive M.D.s till June, but their journeys as physicians started on this day.

Though held indoors for the first time, the ritual unfolded as usual: Each future doctor was called randomly to the podium to open an envelope and read aloud before hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where he or she will spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training.

  1. alt placeholder At UCI's Match Day 2018 ceremony in the Bren Events Center, graduating medical student Ryan Gibney, flanked by wife Melissa and daughter Zoe, is thrilled to learn that he'll be an emergency medicine resident at UC Irvine Medical Center. Steve Zylius / UCI
  2. alt placeholder UCI medical student Helene Nepomuceno (left) gets a hug from Linh Vu after finding out that she's headed to Sunrise Health GME Consortium, in Nevada, for training in general surgery. Steve Zylius / UCI
  3. alt placeholder Jamie Miller learns that she's been matched to a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at UC Irvine Medical Center. Steve Zylius / UCI
  4. alt placeholder Dr. Carol A. Major, director of maternal fetal medicine at UCI, embraces Marie Claire-Matsuo, who will also be going into the OB-GYN program at UC Irvine Medical Center. Steve Zylius / UCI
  5. alt placeholder Graduating UCI medical students Miriam McQuade and Kyle Barbour, who are getting married on May 26, are relieved to discover they've both matched at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York - McQuade in OB-GYN and Barbour in emergency medicine. Steve Zylius / UCI
  6. alt placeholder Ben Nguyen celebrates his match to UC Irvine Medical Center's psychiatry program with friends at the March 16 ceremony. Steve Zylius / UCI
  7. alt placeholder Nicholas Bove and his wife, Sheena, exult over his match to UCI's emergency medicine program, while daughter Starlet is unfazed. Steve Zylius / UCI
  8. alt placeholder Friends and family members in the audience at the Bren Events Center cheer as matches are announced. Steve Zylius / UCI
  9. alt placeholder Graduating medical students Neil and Gabriela Saez, with their 9-month-old son, Sebastian, are delighted that they'll serve their residencies at the University of Virginia Medical Center - he in otolaryngology, she in psychiatry. Steve Zylius / UCI
  10. alt placeholder Olivia Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez react with joy to the news that they've matched as a couple to Kaiser Permanente-Santa Clara and Stanford University, respectively. Steve Zylius / UCI
  11. alt placeholder Graduating medical student Matthew Gunther and his husband, Charles Cloughly, celebrate his match to USC's psychiatry program. Steve Zylius / UCI

Once again, UCI’s future doctors earned residency positions at some of the nation’s finest institutions, ranging from the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Pittsburgh to UCLA and Stanford University.

Miriam McQuade and Kyle Barbour, who will marry on May 26, were seeking a “couple’s match” at the same hospital, which limited their possibilities, but they both found spots at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York – McQuade in obstetrics and gynecology and Barbour in emergency medicine. And they couldn’t be happier.

“We were in for an adventure, and we got exactly that,” McQuade says. “I’m so incredibly excited that we get to be together.”

Headed now to the land of Buffalo wings and lake-effect snowstorms, McQuade and Barbour have left their mark on Orange County. They were part of an effort to establish the Orange County Needle Exchange Program, and McQuade worked with the Santa Ana Unified School District to develop a curriculum covering family planning, sexually transmitted infections, gender and sexuality, consent and communications skills.

PRIME-LC: A family reunion

This drive to serve defines the students in UCI’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community. A five-year master’s-M.D. program, PRIME-LC is the first of its kind specifically designed to meet the distinctive needs of Latinos, and it’s a model for similar endeavors across the country.

Eleven PRIME-LC graduates matched this year, and the ceremony is always something of a reunion for students, staff, family and doctors who have been touched by the innovative program. An annual group photo taken after the event is a memento they cherish.

PRIME-LC participants share a unique medical school bond. In addition to coursework and clinical work, they travel abroad to volunteer in Latin American clinics from Mexico to South America. These international sojourns create lifetime memories. Samuel Saenz, who matched at Stanford in psychiatry, fondly recalls playing the ukulele and singing with a classmate during his infectious diseases rotation in Peru.

“PRIME-LC has been the best part of my medical school experience,” he says. “I look forward to contributing to this wonderful family as a proud alumnus.”

Fellow PRIME-LC student Lesley Lara also plans a medical career dedicated to serving the less fortunate, but first she and her husband will embark on a different sort of adventure: They’re expecting a baby soon after Match Day. And Lara learned at the ceremony that they’ll start their new lives as a family while she serves at the Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California.