Levi Dever is a 31-year-old former infantry mortarman with the U.S. Army. John Geselman went through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Ferris State University, and Soham Parikh was part of the ROTC program at Michigan State University. Ricardo Galindo is a recent graduate of the United States Military Academy.
The military influence was visible Aug. 8 at the white coat ceremony for the incoming class of 104 Central Michigan University College of Medicine students. Geselman and Galindo both wore service uniforms while Dever and Parikh blended in with the rest of the class with shirts and ties.
All four are Michigan residents, and they say the mission of the CMU College of Medicine to provide quality physicians in rural and underserved areas influenced their decision to come to Mount Pleasant.
Geselman is from Carson City, a town of about 1,000 people.
“I went to Carson City’s hospital,” he said. “And since it is out in the middle of nowhere, I got to like it. And then because I loved it so much, I saw CMU’s College of Medicine mission statement and got interested.”
Geselman, Parikh and Galindo applied for and received education delays for their required four years of service in the U.S. Army. Geselman and Galindo are part of the F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program, which will cover their tuition and allow them to perform their active duty as a physician going through residency.
“This whole plan was risky from the start,” said Geselman, who graduated with a biology major and military science minor. “I was never guaranteed I would get into medical school. Never guaranteed I would get the delay. Never guaranteed I would get the scholarship to pay for it. That’s why I’m wearing the uniform today, because the Army is going to pay for it.”
Parikh, like Geselman, did well in ROTC, but he decided not to pursue the scholarship program.
“I want to do orthopedic surgery, and the contract with the Army for that is 16 years,” Parikh said. “And it’s a family-based decision. Being Indian, it’s all about the family.”
Parikh, who is from Canton, said his grandfather and several uncles are physicians, and he has known since he was in middle school he wanted to be a doctor. The military, he said, is experiencing the same physician shortage as Michigan and other areas of the country, so he is eager to help.
Galindo, a Farmington Hills native, comes from a military family. His father is a West Point graduate and his mother went through the ROTC program while attending the University of San Francisco. But why the interest in medicine?
“My mom’s a nurse,” he said. “As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be in medicine.”
Galindo owes the Army five years of active duty and three years of reserve duty, plus the four years of service the Health Professions Scholarship Program requires, so he is enjoying his return to Michigan while he can.
“It is nice being home, and I really liked the idea of a new program at Central Michigan University,” he said. “There are a lot of other big-name programs, but at a school like CMU is the opportunity to shape where this program goes.”
Dever jokes about being an older student, but he is looking forward to medical school and becoming a physician.
“This was always my plan, actually,” said Dever, a Millington native and a University of Michigan-Flint graduate. “I have executed my plan; it just took a little longer than I thought.”
Dever enlisted in the Army after high school, in August 2001, just weeks before the four Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He learned to run a mortar system and eventually was a team leader who saw action in Afghanistan. Along the way, he had stops at Army sites in Georgia, South Korea and New York.
Now he feels at home at CMU.
“CMU was my No. 1 pick because of the location and the Saginaw campus,” said Dever, who lives in Millington with his wife and two young children. “I figure in my third and fourth years I should be able to live at home.”
The CMU College of Medicine is the nation’s 137th medical school, created to address an anticipated shortage of 4,000 to 6,000 physicians in Michigan by 2020.
Students spend their first two years of study on CMU’s main campus in a state-of-the-art 60,000-square-foot facility. The third and fourth years will be spent in clinical training at a number of medical facilities across central and northern Michigan, including Covenant HealthCare and St. Mary’s of Michigan in Saginaw.
A $25 million, 46,000-square-foot College of Medicine educational facility is under construction on the Covenant HealthCare campus in Saginaw. Construction will be complete by May 2015, in time for the inaugural students’ third year of study.