Record-Breaking Alumni Weekend


Above: Alumni and guests toured Northwestern Simulation, 25,000 square feet of meeting, clinical simulation, surgical simulation and virtual reality workspace. View more photos from the weekend here.

After graduating from medical school, both Craig Showalter, ’68 MD, and Steve Embry, ’68 MD, joined the military — with the Vietnam War escalating, young men with medical training were in high demand.

Graduates reconnected with classmates, reminisced about their time at Northwestern and marveled at how the medical school campus has evolved. They went on tours of the hospitals and education buildings, attended seminars led by Feinberg faculty and visited Chicago attractions like the Museum of Contemporary Art and 875 North Michigan Avenue, formerly known as the John Hancock Center.

“I got pulled into the army right out of medical school,” Showalter said. “In fact, they tried to get me out of medical school before I graduated.”

Of his era, Embry said, “I would estimate 95 percent of medical school graduates were serving in the military back then.”

That’s just one of the numerous changes the Class of ’68 has seen since graduating, many of which were on display as Showalter and Embry — and over 500 other alumni and guests — returned to campus for this year’s Alumni Weekend, held April 27 and 28. The event was the largest gathering in the medical school’s history.

Members of the Class of ’68 celebrated their 50-year reunion, including Ferdinand Ofodile, ’68 MD, pictured with Quentin Youmans, ’15 MD.

“There’s definitely a sense of purple pride that brings people back,” said Kavitha Gandhi, ’98 MD, now a clinical instructor of Dermatology at Feinberg. “I still teach here; I jump at every opportunity because it’s fun for me to be back in the classroom, even if I’m on the other side of the lectern.”

On Friday morning, David Kerns, ’68 MD, hosted a forum on his recently published novel, “Fortnight on Maxwell Street.” The book borrows heavily from Kerns’ time at the Chicago Maternity Center, an obstetrics clinic on Chicago’s West Side where many of the Class of ’68 rotated to learn about childbirth.

There’s definitely a sense of purple pride that brings people back. … I still teach here; I jump at every opportunity because it’s fun for me to be back in the classroom, even if I’m on the other side of the lectern.

“The neighborhood was a bustling center of immigrant activity, and you could hear live music every Saturday or Sunday — you also of course had the blues clubs,” Kerns said. “The novel captures a lot about the maternity center, but it’s also about the neighborhood and the 1968 Chicago Riots.”

After the morning forums, current Feinberg students joined alumni for a mentoring lunch, where alumni were grouped by specialty and dispensed advice to interested students. This was the first year that the Physician Assistant (PA) Program participated in the mentoring lunch, and Laura Frese, ’16 PA-C, a PA at The Women’s Group of Northwestern, wanted to follow the example of the PAs who came before her.

“I received so much advice about career development and other topics from providers while I was in school,” Frese said. “Coming and speaking with students is a good way to give back to a program that has done so much for me.”

Top left: Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, ’06 GME (right), vice chair for clinical research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, led a panel discussion on Women in Medicine at the historic Drake Hotel. The panel included (from left to right), Shannon Crabtree, MMS, PA-C, instructor in the PA Program, Julia Vermylen, ’11 MD, ’11 MPH, ’14 GME, instructor of Medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, Elizabeth Spinuzza Harris, ’86 MD, private practice physician in Texas, and Lois Hedman, DScPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. Top right: Alumni at the “Celebrate in Chicago” reception. Bottom left: Alumni attended a brunch with members of Feinberg’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Bottom middle: Alumni met up for an early morning Fun Run along Lake Michigan. Bottom right: Laura Frese, ’16 PA-C (right), dispensed advice to PA Program students at the mentoring lunch. Alumni take a trip down memory lane leafing through yearbooks on display. Photography by Randy Belice