A perfect Match Day: Fulfilling dreams, filling needs and voids

Kayla Schuster matched in OB/GYN at USF

Match Day for the FSU College of Medicine M.D. Class of 2024 began perfectly Friday at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, with all 109 members of the class seeking to continue their medical education in residency programs finding a home.

Students from each of the six regional campuses, loved ones in tow, took to the stage to reveal where they will spend their next three to four years.

“After four years of hard work, today’s the paycheck,” said Tallahassee Regional Campus student Kayla Schusterman, who matched in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa. “Every step you take through medical school, you’re trying to be so strategic and you keep in mind what you have to do to get to the next step. It’s so competitive. There are so many moments where you have little pieces of joy … but today is really the start of a career. It’s really exciting.”

Schusterman was one of 52 students in the class (48%) matching in a primary-care specialty, which includes family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology, filling areas of greatest need in Florida and beyond. 

Collectively, 49 of 109 (45%) of the class will be staying in Florida, an increase from last year’s class (41%), which includes 24 in primary-care specialties.

“Staying in Florida is incredibly important because this is our home,” said Schusterman, who is one of several non-traditional students in the class. “I’ve served in Florida for 10 years as a social worker. My husband has served in Florida almost 20 years as a teacher and assistant principal. This is the place that raised us, and I have no other desire than to give back to the same state that has brought me up.”


M.D. Class of 2024 Residency Match Results

M.D. Class of 2024 Residency Match Statistics

Watch the Match Day 2024 Ceremony

FSU News Match Day Video

Interspersed among the campus-by-campus match reveals, the audience was treated to the annual Match Day themed video. This year’s production was a parody of the TV sitcom “The Office,” with faculty and staff spoofing characters from the self-described mockumentary, much to the delight of the audience.

Equally entertaining were some of the students’ reactions as they learned where they are headed.

Barbara Pierre Louis
Barbara Pierre Louis jumps for joy and celebrates with her mother, having made the leap from Haiti to Yale University in residency as an orthopedic surgeon.
Photo by Colin Hackley

Barbara Pierre Louis, from the Fort Pierce Regional Campus, could not contain her excitement after discovering she is headed to Yale University-New Haven Hospital, matching in orthopedic surgery.

Pierre Louis and her mother were jumping in unison on center stage.

“I never thought this Barbara Pierre Louis, who grew up in Haiti, barely started school until the age of 10, would be here, to be matched at Yale and in orthopedics,” she said afterward. “There’s no way. It’s hard for me to put it together right now, but I’m excited.”

“My hard work paid off … My mom was praying so much. She just encouraged me. Seeing her struggle as a single mother, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change the story and I think this is the beginning. I will be changing the story of my family, and this is the first step.”

Emotions also ran high for Amelia Hartje from the Daytona Beach Regional Campus. “I’m very excited to announce I’m following in the footsteps of my 97-year-old grandma,” she announced, after learning she had matched in pediatrics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB).

Alabama will be the residency home to 16 College of Medicine students from the class, trailing only Florida. A dozen of those ended up at UAB, including Port St. Joe native Decorian (Cory) North, who also matched in orthopedic surgery.

The festivities included a birthday cake presented to Dean Littles on behalf of the Class of 2024. Known for being a die-hard Florida Gators fan – she earned her medical degree at the University of Florida – the colorfully decorated cake had an FSU Seminoles theme. Class President Nick Thomas led the assembly in wishing Littles “Happy Birthday,” on the count of three. Ever a good sport, Littles thanked everyone, shared that it was also her anniversary and even managed a tomahawk chop and a less-than-enthusiastic “Go Noles.”

Thomas, another of the four soon-to-be-physicians matching in orthopedic surgery, said his medical school journey was inspired by his nephew Kahlil, who has cerebral palsy, and his sister May, who gave birth to his nephew at age 15.

“[Kahlil] is 21 today and I’m 27,” said Thomas, who matched at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and punctuated his announcement by donning a Vandy ballcap he pulled from his suit. “Being able to grow up with him and seeing the change that orthopedic surgeries have made in his life was so beautiful and so impactful on my family. I knew that one day, I wanted to have the acumen and ability to change someone else’s life in that way.”

He also credited the perseverance of his sister, “who fought so many battles having a child with a disability so young, and she still graduated from high school and college and showed me that you need to have amazing belief in yourself; just stick with it and it will get you to where you want to go.”

Nick Thomas chops it up
Class President Nick Thomas fulfilled a dream, matching in orthopedic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

On a day when many dreams came true, Thomas reminded his classmates in his closing speech to remember what brought them all together.

“Regardless of the specialty or location we matched into, let us never forget the mission of the Florida State College of Medicine – the serve the underserved with compassion, integrity and excellence.”

After the ceremony, Thomas reflected with pride on his Florida State journey, which began as a 17-year-old undergraduate.

“Now I’m leaving here in a few months as a soon-to-be orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “That speaks to the power of FSU and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend medical school here, as well, and really live out the values that were instilled in me early on here. 

“As you saw today, Cory (North), Barbara and I – all three of us – we’re minority physicians going into a field that doesn’t really have very many Black physicians – less than 2%. So, to see the amazing academic programs that we were able to match into today, I know that in the future we’ll be opening so many doors for those behind us. That’s what makes today so special. It’s bigger than me, bigger than her, bigger than him. It’s amazing.”

Contact Robert Thomas at robert.thomas@med.fsu.edu


Spotlight cover photo: Jessica Costero celebrates with her family after learning she matched in pediatrics at University of Alabama-Birmingham. 

Photo at top: Kayla Schusterman is headed to University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, where she will be in residency for obstetrics and gynecology. She is joined by her husband, son and parents. 

Photos by Colin Hackley for the FSU College of Medicine.