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FSU Medical Alumni Board celebrates graduation of its first student member

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Ryan Fitzgerald, the first student on the FSU Medical Alumni Board, now is a medical alumnus himself. He leaves behind a board that’s benefiting from students’ ideas, and he looks forward to future med students becoming even more involved with alumni matters.

“I truly hope there comes a time,” Fitzgerald said, “when FSU Medical Alumni becomes so ingrained in the College of Medicine that it is one of the first things new students learn about.”

The term “FSU Medical Alumni” refers to everyone who graduated from the College of Medicine or its predecessor at FSU, the Program in Medical Sciences (PIMS). Its board of directors, reorganized in summer 2013, supports students, alumni, faculty and staff and encourages alumni to remain engaged with the college. Among other things, the board honors a distinguished alum each year; recruits alumni to participate in Q&A sessions with students; recruits alumni to host fourth-year students interviewing with residency programs; and plans occasional alumni get-togethers. Since the college didn’t graduate its first class until 2005, the alumni board is still a work in progress.

Three years ago, when all board members were either College of Medicine or PIMS alumni, they realized that an important voice was missing from their discussions — and they recruited a student from the Class of 2016. Since then, a student has been recruited from each successive class. But Fitzgerald was first, and he set the tone.

“His thoughts and opinions in providing the medical student perspective have shaped our goals and initiatives for the future,” said Chelsea Knott, the college’s coordinator of alumni relations. “I thank him for his commitment.”

At first, said Fitzgerald, who also got his undergraduate degree from FSU, he thought he’d be expected to do little more than sit silently at board meetings. Not so.

“Right from the start,” he said, “FSU Medical Alumni made it known that they not only wanted my input, but valued it — whether choosing the association’s logo, designing T-shirts, discussing the Distinguished Alumni Award, planning events. Everything was a collaborative effort between alumni and the student representatives.”

Now that he’s graduated, Fitzgerald will be pursuing residency training in general surgery at Akron General Medical Center/Northeast Ohio Medical University. But even when he’s several states away from Florida, he plans to remain plugged in to what’s happening at the College of Medicine.

“The medical community is small and tight-knit; College of Medicine alumni should be even more tightly knit because there are still relatively few of us,” he said. “One of the most exciting things I can think of after graduating is to be practicing and then see an email from someone at a med.fsu.edu email address. Whether it is a student asking for advice or a place to stay while on an away rotation, or an update from the alumni association, I look forward to staying involved.”

All College of Medicine graduates become lifetime members of the FSU Medical Alumni organization upon graduation. For more information about getting involved, contact Alumni Relations Coordinator Chelsea Knott.