Valedictorians (including one who is also a 1st degree karate black belt), Dean's List and Honors College students, an NCAA Division I Scholar-Athlete, the president of a biological honor society -- so go the backgrounds of just a few members of the new UNLV School of Medicine Class of ‘24.
The more you learn about the students who attend the medical school that opened in 2017, the more you appreciate just how unique they are. From all four classes, you hear that they believe there is a new healthcare world to be built, but it will not come to pass without vision, commitment, passion and respect for the human personality and frailties of man.
On a recent day, Cynthia Lee, Genesis Krisel Leon, Kim Inciong, Shelby Thomas and Ryland McDermott -- their class of 60 started its medical school journey on July 13 -- turned up in the atrium of a UNLV building on the Shadow Lane Campus. Masked and practicing at least six feet of social distancing in this Age of Covid-19, they were each there to pick up supplies that included an iPad, backpack, stethoscope, T-shirt and whiteboard markers.
They also were happy to share what they’re looking forward to, and what got them to this time and place.
Make no mistake about it: When it comes to upcoming events at the medical school, they say that the Sept 4 White Coat Ceremony -- the ceremony is now seen as a rite of passage for new medical students -- is a function they will relish playing a role in. During the ceremony, each student is presented with a white coat, symbolizing their entrance into the medical profession.
The UNLV ritual includes speakers and a student written oath -- every year the new class of medical students writes its own -- that is recited in front of family members, school leadership and their peers to acknowledge their central obligation for caring for patients.
“I think the white coat ceremony, which is a kind of initiation into medical school, makes everything more real,” says Kim Inciong, a valedictorian at Liberty High School in Henderson who’s regularly been on the UNLV Honors College Dean’s List. She also has a 1st degree black belt in karate.”When you’re just taking classes, it can’t be as real as when you put that coat on. It’s special to anyone on the journey to becoming a doctor. This is something we’ve waited for.”
Ann Diggins, the school of medicine’s director of student affairs and career services, says the Sept 4 date has been selected, but COVID-19 is making it hard to plan for the ceremony. If the weather is good, she says it’ll be held outside on the main UNLV campus. Bad weather would probably mean it would be held inside the Cox Pavilion. COVID 19 could mean guests have to be limited because of social distancing, she said. No time has been set for the event.
For the first time, the medical school is involving the community in the white coat ceremony through its White Coat Campaign 2020. Even though the ceremony itself will be largely limited to families because of COVID-19, the community can show its support by donating to the campaign. Funds raised will purchase the 60 white coats as well as fund the Class of 2024 scholarship which will be distributed to students in the four medical school classes that follow.
“Students learn about the importance of philanthropy by watching their scholarship work for other students like themselves,” notes medical school Dean Mark Kahn. “Then, after they graduate and are practicing medicine, they will be asked annually to continue to support the Class of 2024 scholarship, eventually endowing it so it will be available...in perpetuity.”
Watch your mailbox or inbox for your invitation to support the campaign, or check the school of medicine website (
) beginning the week of July 20. To learn more, please call Annette Carter, Sr. Director of Development, at 702-895-0211 or email her at