The UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus celebrated a giant milestone this summer as it welcomed a fourth class of medical students during its white coat ceremony. The excitement will continue because this also means the campus’s inaugural class will graduate this spring.

Ariel Porter is a member of that inaugural class. She heard about the Northern Kentucky Campus during her sophomore year of undergraduate training at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). Due to its convenient location and UK’s mission of addressing the state’s physician shortage, the campus was Porter’s first choice for medical school.

“It felt like fate,” Porter said of being accepted. “My classmates and I have been able to be part of the foundation of this campus. We were provided the opportunity to pioneer the program and help to set the standard.”

NKU and St. Elizabeth Healthcare, a leading hospital system in the region, partnered with the UK College of Medicine to establish the regional campus, which opened in 2019. Students like Porter who attend the campus enjoy smaller class sizes and one-on-one interactions with faculty while utilizing the same curriculum as the UK College of Medicine’s campuses in Lexington, Ky., and Bowling Green, Ky.

As part of the inaugural class, Porter has developed vital leadership skills by helping build student organizations, clubs, and associations. One of her proudest accomplishments was creating Unbridled, a College of Medicine student organization that organizes workshops and TEDx Talk-style presentations to discuss humanity in medicine.

With just a year left of medical school, Porter inches closer to a medical career incorporating her passions for “clinical research, resiliency, and advocacy.” She hopes to embody the compassion and diligence of her former neonatologist who cared for patients during their “darkest and brightest days” and supported her family when she was in the neonatal intensive care unit as a newborn.

“I chose to become a physician because it allows me to make a difference in the community sharing the same blessings of care and compassion which were given to me at such an early age,” Porter said.

She added that she is thankful for her experience at the Northern Kentucky Campus that has helped, and will continue to help her, achieve her goals.

Ariel Porter at white coat ceremony in 2019