The oral histories included here focus on women who graduated from the Jefferson graduate school or medical school before 1975. The interviews explore how each woman became interested in the sciences or medicine, their time at Jefferson Medical College, and where their careers took them after graduate school. Each oral history includes an audio file and written transcript of the interview. All interviews were conducted by Kelsey Duinkerken, the Special Collections and Digitization Librarian at Thomas Jefferson University.
If you graduated from Jefferson Medical College with a medical or graduate degree and are interested in participating, let us know! You can contact Kelsey Duinkerken at email@example.com
DISCLAIMER: These oral histories express the personal views, memories, and opinions of the interviewee. They do not represent the policy, views, or official history of Thomas Jefferson University. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce these oral histories must be obtained in writing from the Thomas Jefferson University Archives and Special Collections. No use (beyond limited quotation) should be made of the transcripts of these interviews without authorization.
Bonnie Lee Ashby and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Ashby completed her undergraduate studies at Wilson College before attending Jefferson Medical College, where she graduated in 1968. She did both her internship and residency at Bryn Mawr Hospital before accepting an infectious disease fellowship at Lankenau Hospital. Dr. Ashby is still in practice today as a general practitioner and Infectious Disease specialist in Bryn Mawr. She is also the Medical Director of the Quadrangle Life Care Community in Haverford, PA.
Nancy Czarnecki and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Czarnecki was both the first woman to matriculate to and the first woman to graduate from Jefferson Medical College. She first learned that Jefferson was accepting women students from a newspaper notice while still at Temple University. After graduating Alpha Omega Alpha she continued her training in family medicine at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia. She then went on to form a family practice with her husband in Port Richmond. Upon leaving private practice in the early 1990’s Dr. Czarnecki became the Senior Medical Director at Prudential Healthcare and later the Patient Management Medical Director for Aetna’s Northeast Region.
Over the years Dr. Czarnecki has remained very involved with Jefferson. She has served as Chairperson of the Alumni Trustee Committee, the Career Day Committee, and the Women’s Forum Committee. In 1989 she became the first woman to serve as President of the Jefferson Medical College Alumni Association, and in 2003 she joined the University Board of Trustees as an Alumni Trustee. She has also been the reunion chairman for the class of 1965 since 1970. Dr. Czarnecki has been retired since 2008 and spends her time divided between Florida and New Jersey.
Anna Marie D'Amico and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. D’Amico entered Jefferson Medical College in 1968 after spending three years as a biology major at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. After graduating from Jefferson in 1972 she did her internship and residency at Wilmington General Hospital before going into practice on her own in 1976. Dr. D’Amico retired from practice in 2007. Since then she has volunteered at the Claymont Family Health Clinic, a clinic for the uninsured, and from 2009-2011 she was the Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Delaware. Most recently she is the Medical Director of a new medical spa.
Dr. D’Amico has been professionally involved in ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for more than twenty years and has held a variety of leadership positions in the organization, most notably as the first woman District III Chair from 2004-2007.
Carolyn Decker and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Parry, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from Abington Friends School in 1957. She went on to attend Beaver College (now Arcadia University), where she graduated in 1961 before coming to Jefferson Medical College, becoming a member of the first class to accept women. After graduating in 1965, Dr. Parry completed an internship at Chestnut Hill Hospital before returning to Jefferson to complete her residency in Radiology.
Dr. Parry went on to become an Assistant Professor in Radiology at Jefferson Medical College and subsequently a Clinical Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine. At Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Parry became an Associate Radiologist, a member of the Executive Committee, Chairman of the Credentials Committee, Radiology Residency Program Director, Deputy Chairman of the Department of Radiology (1986-97) and Acting Chairman (1997-98). While at Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Parry established and ran a Breast Imaging Center, which provided prompt results and established a treatment plan for abnormal findings before the patient ever left the center. This mammography center was the first of its kind in Philadelphia. After her year as Acting Chairman of the Department of Radiology, Dr. Parry retired from Pennsylvania Hospital in 1998. Six months later, she returned to work for 2 to 3 days a week at Lehigh Valley Hospital in the section of Breast Health services, finally retiring in 2003.
Margaret Libonati and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Libonati wanted to be a physician from an early age, but she knew that she could not afford to attend college right after high school so she decided to attend nursing school with plans to work her way through college and then medical school. After graduating from St. Joseph’s Nursing School she enrolled as a chemistry major in the Chestnut Hill College Pre-Med program. At the end of her second year she learned that Jefferson Medical College was planning to accept women for the first time. She soon became one of the first women in Jefferson’s Class of 1965. After graduating from Jefferson Dr. Libonati had a rotating internship at Philadelphia General Hospital and then a two year residency in Anesthesia as part of the PGH-Penn program. She then accepted a clinical fellowship in London where she worked at St. Thomas Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in Pediatrics. After returning to the United States she began a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming an assistant professor at the University of Colorado. In 1972 Dr. Libonati moved back to Philadelphia to work first at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital as an Assistant Professor and then at Wills Eye Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Sarah Long, Marie Russell, and Kelsey Duinkerken
Marie Olivieri Russell
Dr. Russell attended Jefferson Medical College where she graduated top of her class in 1970. In addition to being the first woman to receive the Alumni Prize for highest cumulative GPA, in 1971 she became the first student to serve as a full voting member of the Board of Trustees at Jefferson. After graduation she completed both a residency in Pediatrics and a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before continuing on as a part of their academic staff until 1981 and managing the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program. After leaving Children’s and academic medicine Dr. Russell transitioned into Primary Care, eventually co-founding a pediatric practice for Crozer-Keystone Health System in Media, Pennsylvania. The practice later moved to Springfield, Pennsylvania, grew to include six physicians, and became part of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Primary Care Network. Over the years she also held faculty appointments at University of Pennsylvania, Hahnemann Medical College, and Drexel University. Dr. Russell retired in 2005 to spend more time with her family.
Sarah Sundborg Long
Dr. Long graduated from St. Francis College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology before entering Jefferson Medical College. Upon her graduation in 1970 she completed an Infectious Disease residency and fellowship at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. She is currently the Chief for the Section of Infectious Diseases at St Christopher’s and a Professor of Pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. Throughout her teaching career she has held more than seventy-five visiting professorships and earned a number of honors and awards, including most recently the Lindback Award. Dr. Long is the founding editor of Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Disease as well as an associate editor of The Journal of Pediatrics and the Red Book Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her main research areas are common infectious diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases in children.
Kathleen McNicholas and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. McNicholas graduated from Chestnut Hill College and worked in Radiation Oncology at the Stein Center before coming to Jefferson Medical College in 1969. Dr. McNicholas had a passion for medicine from a young age, in part because her father was a doctor and Jefferson grad. She first discovered her interest in surgery after working closely with Dr. John Templeton while a student and taking a surgery elective at Chestnut Hill Hospital. Upon graduation Dr. McNicholas went to Columbia, where she completed her internship, residency, and fellowship in Cardiac Surgery. In addition to her career as a cardiac surgeon Dr. McNicholas also has a law degree and a Masters in Health Law. She currently works as Christiana Care’s Medical Director for Performance Improvement.
Mary Osbakken and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Osbakken graduated from the University of Illinois with her undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in Physiology before coming to Jefferson to complete a PhD in Physiology. After graduating in 1969 she began teaching at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and concurrently pursuing a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University. She then went on to earn an M.D. from Temple University Medical School. Dr. Osbakken completed her internship at Pennsylvania Hospital before taking fellowships in Cardiology and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance at Temple University Medical School, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital. After her fellowships she worked at Hershey Medical Center and later at University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Osbakken then entered the biotech and pharmaceutical fields working at Bristol-Myer-Squibb, Covance, Sanofi-Aventis, and Inotek. She currently runs her own consulting firm working with biotechs, startups, and pharmaceutical companies.
Anita Robinson and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Robinson attended Morgan State University in Baltimore for her undergraduate degree before coming to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. However, she soon realized that she was more interested in medicine than bench research so after completing her first year of graduate school she transferred to Jefferson Medical College. After graduating in 1974 Dr. Robinson went to Martin Luther King Junior General Hospital in Los Angeles for her residency in Pediatrics. She then went to New York University to pursue a fellowship in Adolescent Pediatrics. Upon finishing her fellowship she worked briefly at DC General Hospital before accepting a position at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she stayed for twenty-eight years. Most recently Dr. Robinson has worked in Philadelphia at Einstein Medical Center and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
Sonia Sloan and Kelsey Duinkerken
Ms. Sonia Schorr Sloan received her Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1949. Upon graduation she went to Jefferson Medical College to pursue a Master of Science degree in Microbiology, where she became the first woman to receive any degree from the University. From Jefferson Ms. Sloan went to teach in the Department of Microbiology at Temple Medical School for two years before being hired as the first woman to work in the Central Research Department at DuPont. From the 1950s onward Ms. Sloan has been involved with a variety of community and political organizations, many of them focused on civil rights, civil liberties, and the empowerment of women. For example, she has served as the President of the Board of Planned Parenthood of Delaware, the YWCA Delaware’s Development Director, and a founding member of the Delaware chapter of the ACLU. She has also been on the founding Boards of the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute, Wellness Community, Public Allies Delaware, Agenda for Delaware Women, and ACLU of Delaware.
Amilu Martin Stewart and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Stewart spent her career as a surgeon and was in the first class of women who graduated from the Jefferson Medical College. When she started medical school she was married with a newborn baby, and even when her second child was born during her third year, she was only able to take a week off in order to retain her place within the medical college Despite an initial interest in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Stewart pursued a residency in general surgery and a fellowship in transplantation surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She maintained an active practice and worked as a lecturer and professor at the University of Colorado for many years. Throughout this time she also served as the President of the American College of Surgeon’s Colorado Chapter and President of the Western Surgical Association, the Chief of the Department of Surgery at Penrose Hospital, and the Director of the Emergency Department at Washington [Adventist] Hospital. Dr. Stewart also helped found the Colorado Physician’s Insurance Company and the American College of Surgeons Foundation. Since retiring Dr. Stewart has continued to stay busy and contribute to the medical field by volunteering at a local health center doing office surgery, sitting on the admissions board for the University of Colorado Medical School, and running the American College of Surgeons Foundation.
Barbara Tenney and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Tenney knew from a very young age she wanted to become a pediatrician and first discovered her love of interacting with patients as a candy striper. After graduating from Wilson College she attended Jefferson Medical College, graduating in 1971. She then completed her fellowship and residency at New York University - Bellevue Hospital Center, where she helped establish a child abuse team. She left NYU and Bellevue Hospital Center for West Virginia for three years before rejoining the NYU faculty and becoming the Director of Pediatrics at Booth Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Tenney eventually joined a group practice in North Carolina before becoming part of the faculty at East Carolina University. She most recently worked in Pennsylvania before retiring. Throughout the years Dr. Tenney has been a member of numerous professional societies, most notably the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she was the National Chairperson of the Provisional Committee on Opportunities for Women in Pediatrics and of which she is a Fellow. Dr. Tenney is also Chair of Wilson College’s Board of Trustees.
Merle Edelstein and Kelsey Duinkerken
Dr. Edelstein is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who works with children, adolescents, and adults. After graduating from Jefferson Medical College in 1965 with the first class of women, she completed her internship at Bryn Mawr and did her residency training in Psychiatry at Hahneman University Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center. She did her analytic training at the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis.
Linda Izquierdo, Ellen Frank, and Kelsey Duinkerken
Kay Ellen Burdette Frank
Dr. Frank graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia before starting at Jefferson Medical College in 1965. Dr. Frank completed her residency in Ophthalmology in Cleveland and then spent nineteen years on the staff at Case Western Reserve University. From there she went to Kaiser, where she worked for eighteen years before retiring and moving to West Virginia.
Linda Lane Izquierdo
Dr. Izquierdo attended the College of William and Mary for her undergraduate degree and received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1969. She continued her training in Radiology at Temple University and Case Western Reserve University. In the 1970s Dr. Izquierdo moved to California, where she still lives and works.