Progress Notes | January 2022

Welcome 2022!

Many innovations in our medical school inspire me with optimism about the future. I want to start the year by acknowledging some of the creative work bringing to life our core value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team continues to do an outstanding job expanding programs and implementing new ones that foster a welcoming, inclusive medical school community. Their hard work and creativity have paid off with VTCSOM earning the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine for the fourth year in a row.

Two of the team’s newest strategies are the revamping of our former Lunch and Learn series and the creation of Riverside Chats. Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB), formerly our Lunch and Learn series, kicked off last month with a lively conversation on dimensions of diversity and cultural competence led by guest speaker Alexander Scott. In addition, the DEI team now hosts monthly Riverside Chats for applicants to our school who are members of groups that are underrepresented in medicine. This virtual forum serves as an informal venue for applicants to ask questions about our school, what it is like living in Roanoke, and about our community. All are welcome to participate.

There is more programming in January. This month a two-part series will be offered through TEACH on January 12 and 19 to improve our understanding of how to create LGBTQ+ inclusion in medicine. Also, several exciting events at Virginia Tech are planned between January 17 and 20 to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Checking out the DEI webpage regularly will introduce you to all the DEI events at VTCSOM so you can choose to attend the ones most valuable for you. These events provide a buffet of opportunities that each of us can pursue in alignment with our personal interests.

Kudos to our DEI team for setting the table for us!

Lee A. Learman


  • Andrew Barr, class of 2019, matched into a Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
  • Student affairs manager Elvir Berbić was featured in the Roanoke Times for his role in creating Roanoke's first futsal court.
  • Jing Chen, class of 2018, now a fourth-year radiology resident, was recognized for exceptional teaching at Penn State University.
  • Jonathon Freezer, class of 2014, has been selected to serve as Chief of Staff for Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Washington where he is currently working in a mixed inpatient/outpatient pediatrics practice.
  • VTCSOM faculty member Cheryl Hartman named 2021 Citizen of the Year by Roanoke City Council.
  • Natalie Karp, urogynecologist, OB-GYN clerkship director, and co-leader of the school’s health systems science and interprofessional practice domain, has been selected for the AMA Health Systems Science mentorship group and has been selected to be a speaker at her cohort’s graduation ceremony.
  • Congratulations to Reneé LeClair, associate professor in the department of basic science education, who completed her M.A.Ed., in Curriculum and Instruction through Virginia Tech's Instructional Technology Online (ITMA) program.
  • During the 2021 Virginia Tech Fall Commencement held in December, the degree of Medical Doctorate was conferred upon Meredith Rahman, class of 2021. Congratulations Meredith! 
  • Congratulations to Mariah Rudd, director of professional development for faculty affairs, who recently earned her Master's Degree in Higher Education (MEd) with a focus in Instructional Design. She serves as chair for the SGEA Faculty Development Special Interest Group (SIG) and as co-chair for the National Academies Collaborative Steering Committee.
  • Class of 2023 student Alyssa Vassallo's story of anorexia recovery and running was featured in the Roanoke Times.


Josh Meyer

Welcome to New Staff

A warm welcome to Josh Meyer, Director of Communications, who joined the VTCSOM family in December.


Welcome to New Faculty

Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us in December:

  • Basic Science Education: Kimberly Coleman
  • Family and Community Medicine: Joseph Kidd and Emily Staples
  • Internal Medicine: Erin Caldwell, Manoj Kumar, and Donald Vile
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: Mariah Rudd
  • Orthopaedic Surgery: Murillo Adrados
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Rena Courtney
  • Surgery: Joshua Stodghill

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • On January 18 we are hosting a viewing of The First Wave, a documentary about the hospital systems and COVID-19. The First Wave is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic.
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB), formerly our Lunch and Learn series, kicked off last month with a lively conversation on dimensions of diversity and cultural competence led by guest speaker Alexander Scott. DIBs are a new series of educational workshops, trainings and presentations to address current topics related to diversity and inclusion. Events are scheduled every other month through the spring. For more information, contact Karyna Nevarez or check back on the event page on our website.
  • As part of our commitment to building an inclusive environment that values every member, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team will be hosting a Riverside Chat series for applicants who are members of groups that are underrepresented in medicine. These chats serve as an informal venue for applicants to ask questions about the school, life as a medical student, and life as a resident of the Roanoke Valley. For more information or to assist with the monthly chats, contact Karyna Nevarez.
  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of January:
    • 1: New Year’s Day
    • 1: Haitian Independence Day
    • 1: Feast Day of St. Basil (Eastern Orthodox Church)
    • 3: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (Roman Catholic Church)
    • 4: World Braille Day
    • 5: Twelfth Night (marks the coming of the Epiphany)
    • 6: Epiphany/Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day)
    • 6: Christmas (Armenian Apostolic Church)
    • 7: Christmas (Eastern Orthodox Church) 
    • 9: Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs 
    • 10: Bodhi Day, commemoration of the enlightenment of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni)
    • 13: Lori-Maghi, commemoration of the memory of forty Sikh martyrs
    • 16–17 (sundown to sundown): Tu B’shevat or Rosh Hashanah La’Ilanot, a Jewish holiday recognizing “The New Year of the Trees”
    • 17: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    • 17: World Religion Day, observed by those of the Bahá’í faith to promote interfaith harmony and understanding
    • 18: Mahayana New Year
    • 18–25: The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
    • 19: Timkat, celebration of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River on Epiphany (Ethiopian Orthodox Church)
    • 26: Republic Day of India
    • 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
a collage with three images. two on the left show three students creating a wooden construction. one on the right shows a student painting a ceiling tile. details below

Community Corner

  • A hearty THANK YOU to everyone who donated to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. VTCSOM raised 179% of our goal, and overall, Virginia Tech raised $435,475 or 111% of its annual goal.
  • Several students worked to create art to be left behind when they head off to their next big adventure. In partnership with the Taubman Museum of Art, students painted ceiling tiles that will first be on display at VTCSOM and then possibly be selected to be permanently installed in patient rooms at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
  • What did medical students LB Canary, Benjamin Tintera, and Pat D’Onofrio do the day after exams? They volunteered to build ramps for our local community members with disabilities. Students from the VTCSOM Chapter of the Medical Student Pride Alliance teamed up with Renovation Alliance to help them on their mission of changing lives in our community.
Kyle Nolan

Spotlight on Giving

The Charter Class Endowed Scholarship was established by the charter class to recognize deserving students who are members of underrepresented populations of students. Kyle Nolan, class of 2023, received this scholarship in 2019. Nolan found his way to medicine through his brother who lives with cerebral palsy and their childhood pediatrician who took care of them both. “Early on, I decided this was a role I wanted to play for my brother and others as well,” he said. Read more about this story

Humanism Notes

We all grow weary sometimes, especially when events seem beyond our control. Probably no one feels this more often than health care providers during the time of a pandemic. is a virtual space where health care workers can share their experiences and inspirations in essays, poems, photographs, art, or music during the COVID-19 crisis. Founded by and for providers, the site showcases exquisite and deeply meaningful creative works that will leave you filled with hope and inspiration. Take a minute to visit the site and look around.

Take Note

Take Note

  • VTCSOM is switching from Digital Measures to Elements this month. We invite our faculty to participate in the training opportunities for Elements offered on January 20, January 26, and February 1
  • The Teaching Excellence Academy for Collaborative Healthcare (TEACH), in collaboration with the VTCSOM Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center at Virginia Tech, will be hosting two virtual Safe Zone training sessions, to take place January 12 and January 19.
  • Virginia Tech’s Office of Talent Development empowers and supports a diverse and inclusive workforce to achieve their potential with strategic, high-impact professional development programs. The office compiles a wide variety of free online programs such as One Minute Habits for Success and Inclusion as a Team Value.
  • Virginia Tech's Advancing Diversity Gathering will take place on Tuesday, January 11, from 9am - 5pm. Register today! Recordings of live events and online presentations will be available to those registered through the spring 2022 semester. 
  • Virginia Tech’s Accessible Technologies has opened the application process for employees to become certified accessibility professionals. Improving accessibility is not just the responsibility of the tech-savvy. Everyone can help to do their part. The CPACC (certified professional in accessibility core concepts) course focuses more on instructional design concepts and is extremely valuable.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

holiday collage with various scenes from the holiday party. scenes include cookie decorating, gift exchange, and ugly sweaters

The Last Note

Celebrating the winter holidays was twice as nice last month with two separate events. Dean Lee Learman hosted a lovely event at the Braeloch in Vinton with scrumptious food and even a little line dancing. Later on in the month, employees gathered for a lively celebration in the Student Commons complete with an ugly sweater contest, cookie decorating (courtesy of Beverly Learman), and the infamous gift exchange.

Add Your Own Note

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