Two students’ paths to White Coat Day

On Friday, Aug. 10, 152 first-year medical school students will begin their education at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania by receiving white coats during its annual White Coat Ceremony. Each student will receive their own stethoscope, and together the new class will recite the The Declaration of Geneva, a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, in front of friends and family.

Ralph St. Luce and Rotem Kimia

Two incoming students, Rotem Kimia and Ralph St. Luce, share their stories and background, and explain why they chose to pursue medicine at Penn.

Ralph St. Luce’s path to Penn started in Florida, then Africa for high school, before graduating from Temple in May. St. Luce is pursuing a combined MD/MBA, for the flexibility a dual career can offer. As an undergraduate, he worked on a CRISPR project with Zebrafish hearts, but his true motivation, he explains, came from his high school years in West Africa. “I was in Togo in West Africa for high school, where they don’t have the most stable health care infrastructure in the world, and I got to see the impact of the lack of a health care system. So I think my motivation to do medicine might not be the clinical role that a lot of people might be driven by. Mine was more the bigger picture.” 


For Rotem Kimia, who moved from Israel to Boston when she was eight, a biology major in college exposed her to the kind of medicine she knew she didn’t want to pursue. Lab research wasn’t her cup of tea, but, like St. Luce, clinical research was her calling. Both students like seeing the benefits of their research on a human scale. “I think being able to see the applications of it, and getting to see patients, was a huge shift for me,” says Kimia. Both students see Penn Medicine not just as a top-notch, highly professional place for learning: They like the collaboration they see with different schools and programs as a fundamental part of their learning. “Becoming a doctor is incredibly competitive, and I think working in the hospital was a big learning curve [to see that there it is] not about being better than the people next to you,” says Kimia. “It’s about doing something together.”

This year’s White Coat Ceremony takes place from 3 to 5 p.m., with a White Coat presentation starting at 3:40 p.m., at Irvine Auditorium, 3401 Spruce St. 

Read more at the Penn Medicine News Blog.