ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University School of Medicine welcomes the next generation of physicians to its annual White Coat Ceremony. The ceremony marks the official start of freshmen’s journey into the medical profession.
The ceremony took place on Sunday, July 31 at St. Francis Xavier College Church.
During the ceremony, new students of the School of Medicine are dressed in their first white coats, a symbol of the confidence placed in them to carry on the honorable tradition of medicine.
Incoming Class of 2026
This year, the School of Medicine received 7,246 applications. A total of 791 students were interviewed and 180 students enrolled.
The class of 2026 is made up of 102 women and 78 men. Students come from all over the United States and around the world. A total of 64 students are from Missouri and 41 from Illinois. Other states represented included California (16), Texas (7), Michigan (six), Wisconsin (four), Ohio (four), and Utah (four). Four students are international.
The age range for the class of 2026 is 21 to 35 years old. The average age is 23 years old. Most of the class, 91 students, are 22 years old.
The student compiled an average GPA of 0.385 and an average MCAT score of 510.
Eleven of the students are first-generation college graduates. Nine students have a master’s degree and one has a doctorate. One student is from the US Naval Academy and another from the US Marine Corps.
Students come to the School of Medicine from 82 undergraduate institutions. The class includes medical scholars from SLU, St. Mary’s, Rockhurst and Drury.
Over 25 languages are spoken by the class of 2026. In total, 73% of students can communicate in at least one other language, with 27 students fluent in one or more languages.
In total, the class of 2026 completed 143,104 hours of research and 91,744 hours of service.
A family tradition of service
Each student has a unique story of how they came to dedicate their life to medicine. For Victoria Wittgen, inspiration started at home. The Boston College graduate was masked by her grandfather Edward Wittgen Jr., MD, (A&S ’54, GRAD MED ’58) and mother, Catherine Wittgen, MD, (A&S ’81, GRAD MED ’85).
Victoria Wittgen has aspired to be a doctor since she was 16 and knew then that SLU was where she wanted to be. At the time, she was a volunteer in the Ambulatory Care Unit and Post Anesthetic Care Unit at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.
“As soon as she got her acceptance letter from SLU, her face lit up,” Catherine Wittgen said of her daughter. “She was so happy.”
Victoria Wittgen was inspired by her family’s impact on the medical field and her dedication to the profession and the patients she served.
“I was in a mall and the cashier saw my name on my credit card. She said, ‘Do you know a certain Edward Wittgen? I said, ‘Yes, he’s my grandfather! ‘ She said, “He saved my life when I was younger!” Victoria Wittgen recalls of her grandfather.
Victoria Wittgen describes her mother as a pioneer in her field. Catherine Wittgen, a professor in the Department of Surgery at SLU School of Medicine, was the first female vascular fellow to train at Harvard. Catherine Wittgen is a SLUCare Physician and Chair of Medical Staff at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.
“My grandfather and my mother are who I aspire to be,” said Victoria Wittgen.
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Founded in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school trains doctors and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care locally, nationally, and internationally. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart and lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.