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BME alumni celebrate Match Day

Darius Ansari

For medical school graduates, Match Day — a coordinated national event in which students around the country are notified of their placements in residency programs — combines the excitement of getting a college acceptance letter and a first “real world” job offer all at once.

Students normally get to experience this moment with their friends, family, professors, and classmates at a big celebration. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced UIC to cancel its Match Day in 2020 and 2021.

But this year, 320 medical students at UIC were finally able to celebrate Match Day in person. At the event, all medical school graduates received an envelope that showed where they were matched for their residency, and together the students opened their envelopes at 11 a.m.

Among those 320 were a number of Richard and Loan Hill Biomedical Engineering alumni who have taken their engineering knowledge and skills and used them to pursue medical careers.

Two of those biomedical engineering alums who were placed this spring were Elise de Bruyn and Darius Ansari. While slightly different interests drew both de Bruyn and Ansari to biomedical engineering and ultimately medical school, both said the foundation of what they learned as undergraduates has helped them along their career paths.

Ansari, who was born in New Jersey but grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, knew that he was interested in computer programming and developing devices. He thought these technology skills would be a good match for the health care field and chose to earn his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at UIC because it allowed him to stay close to his family and attend a strong engineering program.

Elise de Bruyn

Ansari was matched to the University of Wisconsin – Madison and plans on pursuing neurological surgery as his specialty.

“I’m most excited to learn how to operate,” Ansari said. “Given that neurosurgery is intimately related to technology and devices, I’m excited to draw upon the experiences I gained in the College of Engineering to improve patient care.”

De Bruyn followed her love of learning and knowledge, along with an instinct for caring for others, to UIC and medical school.

“I’m the oldest of three daughters, so growing up I was always looking after my sisters, and really felt like I was in that caregiving role growing up,” she said. “My dad always told me, ‘Your personality fits perfectly with medicine.’”

She was a guaranteed professional program admissions student and completed her undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering at UIC and then went on to receive her master’s degree in evidence-based health care at Oxford University in England. After living abroad for this program, she came back to UIC for medical school.

De Bruyn will be spending one year of her residency in a surgery department at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University and then will go on to focus on interventional radiology at the University of Chicago. Right now, de Bruyn said she is planning on pursuing a career in academic medicine, since she is passionate about teaching and research, but added that could change as she learns more about the field.

De Bruyn recommended that current biomedical engineering students interested in medical school take their time after graduating and consider working or pursuing a master’s program first. She added that students should really focus on their mental health and use the support they get from family and friends.

“Students should remember not to base their whole identity on medicine,” de Bruyn said. “You should have other aspects of your life that you find a lot of joy and pride in, and make sure to keep yourself a multifaceted person. If you went into biomedical engineering, you already have that diverse skillset and interests.”

“Take care of yourself and you will see yourself through,” she added.