First Year

Dr. Clif Dietrik

Clif Dietrick, M.D.
Medical School: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University 
Undergraduate: Penn State University
Why MUSC: Throughout the application process, I searched for a program that supplemented outstanding clinical education with substantial child advocacy at the individual, community and state levels. MUSC checked those boxes, and after visiting Charleston, I became increasingly drawn to the region and brand new facilities at the Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital.  A fantastic interview day experience with Dr. Mills and some current residents helped solidify the decision, and it certainly didn't hurt to be trading in Philadelphia's weather for South Carolina sunshine! 

Dr. Emily Downs

Emily Downs, M.D.
Medical School:  East Carolina University
Undergraduate: East Carolina University (Greenville, NC), majored in Public Health Studies and Psychology
Why MUSC: There are so many reasons why MUSC was top of my list. The first is a bit of a cliché, but the people are AMAZING. From pre-interview communications to resident socials to my interview day interactions, I truly felt like this was a warm, welcoming family. I was looking for a medium-sized program where I could get to know my attendings closely, but have flexibility in scheduling and opportunities to work with fellows. I also wanted a center where it was rare to have to refer out patients (e.g. congenital heart disease, heme/onc), making sure I would have good subspecialty exposure and experience. Additionally, I was also looking for a program where I could not only get a great foundation in pediatrics, but also gain skills in advocacy, medical education, and possibly global health. I loved the flexibility of the track experiences here and was impressed with the community involvement, advocacy opportunities, and teaching experiences that residents had access to while in training. Finally, I loved Charleston when I visited – I wanted a place where I could enjoy life outside of work, and this warm, coastal, beautiful city was absolutely what I was looking for. The brand new children’s hospital with outdoor areas for staff to get sunlight and fresh air was just icing on the cake.

Dr. Elena Goldstein

Elena Goldstein, M.D.
Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina
Undergraduate: College of Charleston
Why MUSC: Being a medical student at MUSC, I was lucky to be able to work with so many of the residents and faculty in person before residency. From the first day meeting everyone, you can tell how happy everyone is to be able to work together, and how much they enjoy spending time together outside of the hospital too. Even on difficult or really busy days, it was so apparent that everyone really cared about each other and wanted to help one another. I also loved that MUSC is a mid-sized program with faculty that enjoy teaching and that we get to work in a beautiful stand-alone children's hospital right on the water. Charleston is such an amazing place to live, with great beaches and restaurants and so many places to explore, which makes it all even better! 

Dr. Alexus Gonzales

Alexus Gonzalez, M.D.
Medical School: Indiana University
Undergraduate: University of Central Florida
Why MUSC: There is so much to love about this program and it always felt right from day one! On my interview day, everyone was so kind and truly excited about getting to know all the applicants. There was a huge focus on how this program could help each individual thrive in their interests and future career which was refreshing. Dr. Mill’s love for the program and the residents is contagious and I just knew this was a program where I would not only have a great education, but also be surrounded by awesome humans. The fact that this program was mid-sized, had a stand-alone children’s hospital with STUNNING views, and was in a great location was a major plus for me, too! 

Dr. Sofia Goyonaga-Calatyud

Sofia Goyonaga-Calatayud, M.D. 
Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Undergraduate: The College of William & Mary
Why MUSC: Interview day! I'm undecided for life post-residency, so I was looking for an academic center with a standalone children's hospital and mid-size program where I would see the breadth of pediatrics. Most importantly, I was looking for a supportive program with close-knit residents and faculty invested in mentoring residents. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and it was easy to see the strong bond between residents even through the screen. Being here now, my gut feeling was confirmed and I'm definitely in the right place for me. Aside from the awesome program, Charleston is a great city if you love the beach, sun, and good food!

Dr. Carolyn Gregorie

Carolyn Gregorie, M.D.
Medical School: University of South Carolina
Undergraduate: Clemson University 
Why MUSC: I had the pleasure of working at MUSC prior to matriculating into medical school, so MUSC has always felt like home to me. Ever since, I've been trying to make my way back here! The people are wonderful. They truly care about you as an individual and are devoted to providing you with a great education. Many of the people you'll meet have been here for 10+ years and that says a lot! You'll get to see and treat a wide breadth of different pediatric conditions which is a huge plus for whatever specialty you may be interested in down the line! Also, having grown up in Charleston, I can say it's a great place to live!! There is always something to do especially if you love being outdoors!

Dr. Emma Kunkleman

Emma Kunkleman, D.O.
Medical School: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas Campus
Undergraduate: Western Carolina University
Why MUSC: I was drawn to MUSC initially due to the Pediatric Primary Care program because that’s what I want to do. I was looking for a medium-sized program that would prepare me well as a general pediatrician, as well as ideally had opportunities to work with Spanish-speaking populations. MUSC seemed to be the right fit for me, and I immediately fell in love on interview day! Everyone is so kind and supportive, and it truly feels like your family. Plus, I couldn’t pass up being able to work and train in a beautiful city close to the beach!

Dr. Margaret LaPorte

Margaret LaPorte, M.D.
Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina
Undergraduate: Clemson University
Why MUSC: I chose MUSC because of the sense of community I felt throughout the program. When I was a medical student, the residents, faculty, and interdisciplinary staff here were always supportive and invested in my learning. I knew I would continue to receive quality training if I was lucky enough to match here. I am beyond excited to stay in Charleston, train with an incredible team, and continue to care for my local community!

Dr. Taylor Lofton

Taylor Lofton, M.D.
Medical School: Louisiana State University - Shreveport
Undergraduate: University of Louisiana at Lafayette 
Why MUSC: As cliché as it sounds, I chose MUSC because of the people. We all know residency is hard, but your support system and the people you spend your time around are so important. The people I met at MUSC were ones I knew I wanted in my corner and wanted to be around on the best and worst days of residency. Some added bonuses are our amazing PD, Dr. Mills, our outstanding program coordinator, Becky and of course living in Charleston!

Dr. Keila Magafas

Keila Magafas, M.D.
Medical School: University of Illinois
Undergraduate: Illinois Wesleyan University 
Why MUSC: I will never forget the feeling of being cared for during my interview day with MUSC. The program leadership at MUSC is like no other. Many people describe a "gut" feeling and I definitely had that! This feeling has been reassured day in and day out at MUSC. MUSC checked all the boxes and more for me including a free-standing children's hospital, a Global health track, commitment to diversity, a balanced schedule and a superb residency culture. Not to mention that Charleston is a GREAT place to live. I can't get over the fact that the ocean is a 15-minute drive away!

Dr. Zachary Mayo

Zachary Mayo, M.D.
Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Why MUSC: MUSC first caught my eye when I heard about its unique primary care curriculum combining the exposure of a stand-alone children’s hospital with a focused outpatient experience. However, it was on interview day when I knew this was my place and my people. I was taken back by everyone’s excitement for their program and city as well as the genuine interest of the faculty in us not just as applicants but as people. I knew that this close-knit, easy-going, and supportive community would prepare me to be the best pediatrician possible. And hey, being close to the beach is a sweet bonus! 

Dr. Hannah McDonald

Hannah McDonald, M.D.
Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina
Undergraduate: Purdue University (IUPUI)
Why MUSC: As a Charleston native, I had a lot of personal reasons for being interested in staying here for residency, and my desire to stay was reinforced by every interaction I had with the pediatric residency program. The program is small enough that I got a feel for its strong sense of community and emphasis on education even while I was still in medical school. At the same time, the children's hospital is large enough that there was a wide variety of clinical encounters, patient population and acuity of condition, which provided invaluable learning opportunities not only in clinical medicine but also in areas like community health and advocacy. That combination provided me with a fantastic pediatric education during medical school, and I felt confident that the training I would get from the residency program here would help me provide the best care possible to the children and families in my community.

Dr. Maria Montalvan Padilla

Maria Montalvan Padilla, M.D.
Medical School: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras
Undergraduate: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras
Why MUSC: The single most significant factor in choosing MUSC was the people. Before starting residency, I knew it would be challenging, but I wanted to be surrounded by people who could support me and be there during the difficult moments. During my interview, everyone seemed welcoming, happy to work together,  kind, and friendly. Even though the interview was virtual, I just knew I wanted to be part of this family. I was also looking for a program that allowed residents to work closely with the local community. Being here, I can tell you that MUSC goes above and beyond to care for the children in South Carolina and is always looking for ways to serve them better. Last but not least, the location. Being in such a beautiful city where I could access beautiful warm beaches and amazing food was the cherry on top.

Dr. Vanessa Navas

Vanessa Navas, M.D.
Medical School: University of Central Florida
Undergraduate: University of Florida
Why MUSC: As someone interested in pursuing general pediatrics, I was blown away by the opportunities available to me through MUSC's robust primary care track. Interview Day further sealed the deal as I got to know several residents and faculty members that made me instantly feel welcomed! Their passion for building a learning environment that values teamwork, wellness, and mentorship was evident and genuine. The transition to residency can be tricky, and I am so happy to be a part of a program that is eager to support me every step of the way! Of course, the beautiful year-round weather and beaches of Charleston are also a lovely bonus!

Dr. Megan Peterson

Megan Peterson, D.O.
Medical School: Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM)
Undergraduate: Coe College
Why MUSC: The people I met on my sub-I! At MUSC, everyone I worked with was so welcoming and knowledgeable. When difficult cases or situations arose, all members of the team immediately started working together to find a solution. Charleston was also a big factor in my decision - holy moly the city is beautiful and there are so many cool things to see and do. I knew this is where I would be able to grow into the pediatrician and child neurologist I want to be. I'm so happy I chose MUSC!

Dr. Helena Quach

Helena Quach, M.D.
Medical School: University of Central Florida
Undergraduate: University of Florida
Why MUSC: I had an incredible experience during the interview day, so much so that I texted all my closest friends immediately after about how I knew MUSC was the program for me. Even virtually, I got the sense that the residents and faculty were tight-knit and supportive of one another. This belief has only been strengthened since my time here. Aside from the strong sense of community, I was also drawn to MUSC for its amazing leadership and hospital. Not to mention, Charleston is such a fun and vibrant city to live in!

Dr. Sierra Stumpff

Sierra Stumpff, M.D.
Medical School: UT Health San Antonio
Undergraduate: Baylor University
Why MUSC:  I chose MUSC because I couldn't stop thinking about my amazing interview day, the people I met, and the possibility of living in Charleston! The program itself checked a lot of my boxes being a medium-sized program, with numerous fellowship opportunities, and a leadership team that truly wishes to support their residents. But I was also impressed with the feeling of the program as well, it seemed like everyone I met was happy to be where they were at and around the people they were with. Plus, I had never lived near an ocean so MUSC was too good to be true. It still seems surreal that I am here, but I am so incredibly thankful! 

Dr. Luke Wessler

Luke Wessler, M.D.
Medical School: Medical University of South Carolina
Undergraduate: Bradley University
Why MUSC: I initially chose MUSC for school based on institutional reputation, access to a wide variety of top-ranked specialties, and opportunities in the Charleston area in which my family can get involved. As a student, I was impressed with the pediatrics program’s leadership team, facilities, and overall program, and I knew that I wanted to stay here for residency, and this decision has only been confirmed the longer I am here. Not having to move my family again was a nice bonus.