Dear VTCSOM Family,

Last weekend, we celebrated 42 new doctors from the Class of 2024 and sent them out into the world at our 11th annual commencement ceremony. It was a monumental achievement not only for the graduates and their families, but also the faculty, staff, mentors, clerkship directors, department chairs, and everyone else at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine who helped them along the way.

When this class began their medical education in July of 2020, they moved to Roanoke from the isolation of a global pandemic in the most challenging of times.  The anticipatory excitement of beginning this journey was muted by other feelings – anxiety, uncertainty and guardedness.  I had great confidence that they would emerge with strength. 

The Class of 2024 showed extraordinary courage navigating concerns and differences in risk perception and responding to the frequent changes in pandemic protocols that unfolded both in our classrooms and the clinical learning environment. And as students in a medical school that prides itself on continuous innovation, evaluation and improvement, they experienced new elements of our curriculum and helped improve them. 

With determination and adaptability, our newest graduates not only mastered the intricacies of medical science but also cultivated the essential qualities of empathy, compassion, and integrity that define great physicians. They triumphed over historic challenges without allowing the experience to diminish their drive to serve others.

We can all take pride in these graduates as they go forth to continue their careers with curiosity, humility and a zeal for excellence. They will go forward to become exemplary patient-centered physicians who work to improve the health of the communities they serve. We look forward to keeping in touch with them as our newest alumni! 

I invite you to view the Class of 2024 graduation video and a gallery of photos from the event.

Lee A. Learman, M.D., Ph.D.


Editor’s note: The next issue of Progress Notes will be published Monday, June 3. All submissions should be sent to Catherine Doss ( no later than Monday, May 20.



  • Congratulations to Carilion Clinic CEO Nancy Howell Agee, who has been recognized by the American Hospital Association with its highest honor, the AHA Distinguished Service Award.
  • Here are the most recent exceptional teacher recognitions shared with the Learning Environment Advocacy Committee. Thank you to these faculty for providing a great experience for our students: Emergency Medicine- William Tabor and Daniel Calick; Family and Community Medicine- Randy Rhea and Adrienne Kinsey; Internal Medicine- Jeri Lantz and Jordan Scharping; Neurology- Anil Yallapragada and Narmada Mannem; OB-GYN- Ryan Bradley and Kayla Vendetti; Pediatrics- Anne Laverty and Anne Washofsky; Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine- Justin White and Karin Khalid; Radiology- Ashley Tuttle and Sarah Thomas; Surgery- Adam Maerz and Al Hagy
  • Big congratulations to three of our VTCSOM employees who were recently nominated for university awards. Joalenn Tabor, health systems science and interprofessional practice domain director,  was nominated for an Administrative and Professional Faculty Award for consistently demonstrating an inventive, creative, and problem-solving approach to her work. Both Kayla Dean and Paige Markham Jentsch, VTCSOM finance, were recently nominated for the University McComas Staff Leadership award and were cited for their collaborative spirit, knowledge sharing, problem-solving skills, effective communication, positive attitudes, and continuous learning.


Posters and Presentations

The following posters were presented at Carilion Clinic Research Day:

  • Congratulations to these VTCSOM students who gave oral presentations:
    Class of 2025 – Paul VargheseMia EdelsonEthan NetheryCourtney BarthLiliana Ladner, and Tyler Shick. Class of 2026 – Varun MishraCollin Tanchanco OcampoZachary Johnson, and Brianna Chang. Abstracts from the event. 
  • “Mentorship Matters, A Virtual Team-based Program: One-year Outcomes” by Sarah Harendt, Mariah Rudd, and Shari Whicker, all with TEACH; Paul Skolnik, chair Basic Science Education; and Rebecca R. Pauly, vice dean.
  • “Launching Leaders: The Impact of an Innovative Faculty Development Community on Program and Clerkship Directors' Growth and Success in Academic Medicine” by Shari Whicker, Mariah Rudd, and Sarah Harendt, all with TEACH;  Tracey Criss, Carilion physician; and Arthur Ollendorff, VTCSOM associate dean and Carilion physician.

The group also presented the poster at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs conference. 

Welcome New Faculty

  • Internal Medicine – Christopher Hourigan, Jasmine Jackson-Akers, Sumita Mishra, Anthony Slonim, and Matthew Weston
  • Family and Community Medicine Patricia Dell
  • Surgery – Shannon Fulp and Daniel Rukstalis

Humanism Notes

This promises to be a powerful discussion on how mutual respect and understanding can overcome hate in our society. The event is free, but registration is required at

  • Hope over Hate
  • Roanoke Jewish Federation, Beth Israel Synagogue, & Temple Emanuel
  • May 9 @ 7 p.m.
  • Grandin Theatre

Rev. Dr. Joe Cobb, vice mayor of Roanoke, will serve as a moderator for a discussion with the co-founders of Serve2Unite, an organization that seeks to address the root causes of hate-motivated violence. The speakers are Pardeep Singh Kaleka whose father, the leader of a Wisconsin Sikh Temple, was one of six people shot and killed by a white supremacist, and Arno Michaelis, who helped found that very same white supremacy organization. The story is of how understanding, hope, and friendship can overcome hate.

hope over hate

Spotlight on Giving

The 2024 Scholarship Reception was a heartwarming event where donors and scholarship recipients came together for recognition and gratitude.  This annual gathering was held April 18, 2024, at The Train Station showcasing a front row view of the potential site for a new medical school. 

Several of VTCSOM's most generous donors were able to meet the students who shared, first-hand, how their contributions have positively influenced their educational journeys.  This meaningful interaction reinforced the invaluable role of philanthropy.  Pictured below, Dr. Dan and Mrs. Gil Harrington, benefactors of the Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship, were able to spend time with student Paul Griffin, this year's recipient.

Dean Emerita of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, Dr. Janet Johnson shared her insights on the significance of giving back, underscoring the impact of philanthropy on educational opportunities.  Johnson currently serves on the VTCSOM Dean's Advisory Council.  Alongside her husband, Dr. Jim Johson, retired director and associate professor emeritus of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, they recently established the Drs. Jim and Janet Johnson Medical Education Scholarship, exemplifying their commitment to supporting future generations of medial scholars at VTCSOM.  

VTCSOM Dean Lee Learman motioning to proposed site of new building

spotlight on giving collage

Alumni Update

Class of 2014! Have you caught the pickleball craze yet? If you have (and even if you’re not quite there), it’s another reason to get excited about the upcoming 10-year reunion. Among the many events planned is a pickleball tournament on Saturday with proceeds benefiting the Caroline Osborne Memorial Scholarship. The tournament is open to everyone. See flier for details.

Charter Class 10-Year Reunion

  • May 17-19, 2024
    The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center
    110 Shenandoah Ave
    Roanoke, VA 24016

Register for the reunion here:

Schedule of events and more information


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update 

Below are May holidays and celebrations.

May is:

  • Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month 
  • Jewish American Heritage Month
  • Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • Older Americans Month
  • 1: May Day/Workers’ Day/International Workers’ Day
  • 1:  Beltane
  • 2:  National Day of Prayer
  • 3:  Feasts of Saints Philip and James
  • 5:  Cinco de Mayo
  • 5:  Orthodox Easter (Pascha)
  • 5-6 (sundown to sundown): Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah)
  • 9:  Ascension of Jesus or Ascension Day
  • 10: Military Spouse Appreciation Day
  • 15: Buddha Day (Vesak or Visakha Puja)
  • 17:  International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
  • 19: Malcom X Day
  • 19: Pentecost
  •  21:  World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
  • 22–23 (sundown to sundown):  Declaration of the Báb
  • 26:  Trinity Sunday
  • 27:  Memorial Day in the United States
  • 29: Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh
  • 30:  Corpus Christi

Community Corner

  • Thank you to faculty and students from VTCSOM and FBRI who created their own Lil’ Big Event and partnered with Roanoke’s Clean Valley Council to collect trash along the Roanoke River last month. 
  • VTCSOM will have a table in the Children’s Activity Area of this year’s Local Colors Festival.  Stop by our tent for some fun with STEM!
  • Students from VTCSOM and Radford University Carilion (RUC) played their first inter-school softball game last month. VTCSOM won this year’s contest, but we expect RUC to come back “swinging” next year. 

Take Note

The Virginia Tech bookstore has a new supply of VTCSOM merch for sale online. Check it out:

GME Newsletter

  • The GME office has a quarterly electronic newsletter that highlights our programs as well as the accomplishments of our residents, fellows, and faculty.  If you would like to receive the newsletter, please send an email to Alaina Lawrence at

The Last Note

Sometimes an organization’s employee/student get-together is a bit different. Take, for instance, last month when we munched on Moon Pies and watched the solar eclipse from the VTCSOM front patio. Photos by Ryan Anderson for Virginia Tech.

eclipse collage