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#UMMCGrad15: SOM quintet is pitch perfect

#UMMCGrad15: SOM quintet is pitch perfect

They call themselves 4 Hearts, 1 Beat, a double-edged name that cuts to the chase: A love of medicine brought them together, and a love of music has kept them there. 

The Hearts are lead singer Kelly Pippin, guitarist/vocalist John Bridges, accordionist Jorge Jimenez and violinist (fiddler) McGinty Chilcutt. The Beat is Drew Smith, the drummer. 

In March, the Beat and three of the four Hearts matched at UMMC for their residencies. But they matched up with each other long before that - drawn together by their mutual love of performing and the medical students' craving to, as Smith put it, "use a different side of the brain." 

"It scratches a different itch," Bridges said. 

Said Pippin: "I think we'd go crazy if we didn't do something else." 

Doing something else, in fact, helped them land a recent gig at New Orleans' House of Blues, and it may have helped them get through medical school. Chilcutt is the only one of the five not graduating on Friday, and that's only because he just finished his third year. 

He's also one of the most talented members of the group, Pippin said. "He was playing the violin right out of the womb." 

Actually, since age 3, Chilcutt said. 

Ophthalmology resident Jimenez, who has played piano since kindergarten and took four years of classical piano at Millsaps College, squeezes his keyboard skills into the accordion. Bridges, an internal medicine/pediatrics resident, has played trombone most of his life, he said, learned guitar in college and was a Teach For America music teacher in the Humphreys County School District. 

Pippin, brought up in Roanoke, Va., toured with a children's concert choir for seven years and studied piano for 10. Aware of each other's backgrounds, she and Bridges decided two years ago to perform on Fenian's open mic night after recruiting Jimenez. The band was born. 

Less than a year later, the group won Fenian's open mic night competition and was awarded a spot on the pub's St. Paddy's Day lineup - their first paid gig. 

"We started getting booked more often after that," Bridges said. 

Chilcutt had come on board at the invitation of Bridges, who got to know him during one of their medical rotations. The current band roster was fixed when they enlisted Smith, the former Drumline Captain at LSU for three years. 

What they haven't managed to enlist is a tour bus or van. They drive to shows in a "traveling caravan," they said, after dividing their equipment, and each other, among their vehicles, including a Honda Civic, which can hold a guitar, violin, accordion, three guys and ¾ of a drum set. 

Genre-wise, the quintet spans much of the musical spectrum - the Beatles, country, hard rock, folk rock, pop and more - but, with a couple of exceptions, no tributes to the big-haired '80s. 

"We don't have a bass player," Smith explained. 

The process of choosing which songs to cover is "Darwinian," Chilcutt said. Only the fittest survive - as determined by audience love, or lack thereof. 

At such venues as Fenian's Pub in Jackson and their friends' weddings, they've entertained frequent requests for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Free Bird," and more. 

Britney Spears and Spice Girls tunes also light up the room, said Pippin, whose husband and fellow internal medicine resident Zach Pippin takes on managing and "merch" (merchandising) for the band. 

But it was a somber rock 'n' roll standard that in April propelled them to the stage at the immortal House of Blues. 

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#UMMCGrad15: Steele stays SHRP

#UMMCGrad15: Steele stays SHRP

As a young child, Jalyssa Steele remembers, she wanted to be a sonographer. "I knew radiology was the way to go," she said. 

But, her health education path took a turn when she enrolled in the surgery technician program at Meridian Community College, graduating in 2011. 

Today, the University of Mississippi Medical Center surgery tech in labor and delivery has expanded her career options. She's receiving a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences this month from the School of Health Related Professions and preparing to continue her education in nuclear medicine technology. 

"I thought, 'Let's just go back,' " Steele said of her decision to continue her studies at SHRP. 

She plans to continue working part-time at UMMC while she enters the next phase of study. "I'll start back to school May 26, and the new program will take me a year," said Steele, 26, a DeKalb native and graduate of Kemper County High. 

Steele isn't skipping a beat as she transitions from one program of study to another. During her tenure so far at SHRP, she's gathered a number of awards, including the $4,000 Royce Osborn Minority Student Scholarship from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. Only five radiologic sciences students nationally were chosen for the scholarship, which is presented to those in entry-level radiography, sonography, magnetic resonance imaging, radiation therapy, or nuclear medicine technology programs. 

"It meant so much to get that scholarship," said Steele, a Brandon resident. "There were others who were just as competitive as I was, and it was such an amazing opportunity to put money toward something I really love." 

Steele took part in the 2014 Student Leadership Academy at the ASRT Educational Symposium and Annual Governance and House of Delegates Meeting in Orlando. She also serves as one of two student delegates to the Mississippi Society of Radiologic Technologists. 

"The key word to describe Jalyssa is initiative," said Dr. Kristi Moore, associate professor and director of the radiologic sciences program. "She really takes the initiative to go above and beyond and to seek out opportunities. She wants to be a leader, and she's the type who goes for it and works hard for it." 

It's especially noteworthy, Moore said, that Steele has worked on weekends and attended class during the week, at the same time taking part in conferences and other leadership activities on the state and national levels. 

"Since she came into our program, she's been very service oriented," Moore said. "She's the type of student to go above and beyond to get involved in leadership opportunities. She's been a wonderful student." 

In the future, Steele says, she wants to expand her horizons just a bit more. 

"I want to find a job in nuclear medicine, but to continue to practice as a surgical tech just to keep my skills up," she said. "And, I want to get married. I want to start a family, and to start off my life."

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#UMMCGrad15: SOP's Gross sisters

For seven years, Brittany and Whitney Gross have worked hard to earn degrees from the University of Mississippi's School of Pharmacy, beginning on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, and ending with training and classes at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

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#UMMCGrad15: SOP's Gross sisters

Commencement, Penn neuroscientist's talk highlight upcoming events

Commencement, Penn neuroscientist's talk highlight upcoming events

A number of interesting events is scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center.

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