A Message to the Entering Class of 2020

Dear Entering Class of 2020,

A sincere and heartfelt welcome to WashU and to Saint Louis! We are so pleased each of you are here and are joining the Washington University School of Medicine community amidst these challenging times. You are now part of one of the finest medical learning communities in the nation. We are honored that you selected WashU and look forward to leading you through the adventure and challenge of your initial medical education. We eagerly anticipate observing your growth as student physicians, your scholarly and personal contributions individually and as a class, and to seeing what you will offer our community and our city.

It has been a pleasure to watch the Entering Class of ‘20 take shape and definition, from application and interview season to April’s virtual Second Look, and these recent summer months of communication leading to a much later than normal orientation week. I say it yearly, but your class brings with it an amazing collection of talents and personalities (and futures!). I encourage you to take time to learn who is joining you in this journey—your classmates are perhaps strangers now, but soon will be secured as lifelong friends and colleagues. 

Here are some numbers for your perusal, for a sense of your class in the aggregate:

  • 104 members of the entering class; from this, 20 are enrolled in our Medical Science Training Program (a.k.a., the MD-PhD dual degree).
  • 23.5: Average age; entering ages range from 20 to 29
  • 61% Female students (n=63); 39% Male students (n=41)
  • 25 members of the entering class are considered underrepresented students in medicine. Seven (7) students are first-generation to college.
  • 26: U.S. states represented by members of the entering class; California leads in this category, with 17 incoming students from the “Golden State”, followed by Florida (7), Illinois and Minnesota (6 each), Missouri and Texas (5 each), and Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Utah (each with 4). 
  • 11: Students from countries other than the United States, with China (4), Canada (1), Honduras (1), Lebanon (1), Mexico (1), Nigeria (1), Spain (1), and Vietnam (1) all proudly represented. 
  • 60: Institutions from which entering students earned their undergraduate degrees, with the most common including WashU (10), Duke (6), Vanderbilt (6), Yale (5), Cal-Berkeley (4), Brown (3), Emory(3), Johns Hopkins (3), UCLA (3), and the University of Washington (3). 
  • Biology/biological sciences (18) was the most common undergraduate major, followed by biochemistry (13), molecular/cellular biology (13), neuroscience (12), chemistry (5), psychology (5), and biomedical engineering (4). Eight (8) of you have earned masters degrees.

There is no easy quantitative or qualitative summary for all the biographical richness that you shared with us in your applications and in the context of interviews. Collectively, you have research prowess (you averaged 1,977 total research hours at the time of your application!), musical and creative talents (I will offer no numbers there), inquiring minds, an incredible work ethic, multiple hobbies, and high clinical aspirations. You were specially selected because of your enthusiasm for the inaugural season of the Gateway Curriculum. You show resiliency, and I encourage you to be disciplined to hold on to that critical attribute. Most importantly, you want to care for people and this is core to your value system. 

I am so pleased you are here! Best wishes as you get settled and launch here—

Valerie Ratts, MD
Associate Dean for Admissions
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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