Caroline Reist of Alexandria, Virginia, received Virginia Tech’s 2018 Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Outstanding Graduate Award.

Coordinated by Student Affairs, the Outstanding Student Awards recognize exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and service by a student from each of the university’s eight colleges and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Reist will receive her M.D. degree during the school’s graduation ceremony May 5 at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

During her time at VTC School of Medicine, Reist has earned many academic accolades including induction into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, which she served as chapter president this year, and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. In addition, she received eight Letters of Distinction from the school.

Two of Reist’s Letters of Distinction are related to research. While at the school, she has participated in three research studies, one that has spanned the last three years of her education and was published in the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution. Reist evaluated rotavirus samples from Ghana to evaluate if the RNA manipulated itself, which could have implications for vaccine effectiveness. It was one of eight projects from her class of 41 to earn recognition as an outstanding project.

Outside of the classroom and laboratory, Reist volunteered with many of her classmates at the Bradley Free Clinic, serving as president of the Bradley Free Clinic Student Group in 2015-16. She worked with several other students to establish a regular international clinic at Bradley, which she oversaw as president and co-founder.

“Roanoke has a large immigrant and refugee population and access to care is an issue,” Reist said. “Starting the clinic was a special experience because we went all over the city – to the emergency room, a literacy center, churches, and other places we normally would not have been exposed – to recruit patients. We got to know more about the community we’ve called home the last four years. It was a great learning experience.”

Reist has also advocated for the refugee community as a member of the Roanoke Refugee Mental Health Council since 2015.

Reist volunteers in various other ways to round out her leadership, service, and professional realms including service as a member of the VTC School of Medicine Admissions Committee, Kids Tech volunteer, Camp Too Sweet Counselor, Western Virginia Regional Science Fair judge, and member of the American Medical Association, Medical Society of Virginia, and American Society of Plastic Surgeons. She is co-president of the school’s Plastic Surgery Interest Group.

After graduation, Reist will move to Pennsylvania for her residency in plastic surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“I can think of no worthier recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Award,” said Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs at VTCSOM. “Caroline has excelled in the classroom, in the laboratory, at the bedside, and in the Roanoke community.”

While her residency will last six years, Reist hopes to one day return to the Roanoke. “I’ve talked with my classmates and many of us want to come back one day to practice,” Reist said. “Roanoke has really embraced the school and made us part of the community. It will be hard to leave.”

Reist earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell science from the University of Florida.

Share this story