Circles of people holding hands


Alumni Collaborate To Create Scholarships

March 25, 2024

Two groups of College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) alumni have recently joined forces to put forth the initial funding for scholarships that will directly benefit students. One such collaborative scholarship is being funded by Phil Spadafora (D.O. ’89) and Chris Kyriakides (D.O. ’89), who met on their first day of classes at NYITCOM. Nearly 35 years later, the two are still close friends, having been in each other’s weddings, as well as working together for years.

“In addition to being friends and colleagues, Phil and I both have kids that are pursuing healthcare for their careers, so we thought it would be a good idea to fund a scholarship together,” says Kyriakides, who works in physical medicine and rehabilitation at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. “NYITCOM is already a great school with an impressive student body, and we liked the idea of helping students who need a leg up get the opportunity to earn their medical degree.”

Kyriakides and Spadafora, who is an adjunct assistant professor at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and practices internal medicine at Long Island Professional Medical Services, will each make annual gifts over five years to create the Kyriakides Spadafora Endowed Scholarship, which will support an NYITCOM student with financial need.

“I like the idea of showing people that creating an endowed scholarship is doable to galvanize more supporters to make the same choice,” says Kyriakides, whose son Chris and daughter Kalliope both graduated from NYITCOM in 2018. “It’s not just about helping one student; creating a scholarship has a long domino effect of helping thousands of patients and the entire healthcare system. We can create a cascade of positivity.”

The Circle of Power

A second group of NYITCOM alumni is also pooling their resources to create a collaborative scholarship named after their medical school study group, which they affectionately called the Circle of Power.

“The name started off as a bit of a joke, but it stuck,” says Keith Hoerning (D.O. ’00), owner of Doctors Care Family Medicine and co-founder and chief medical officer at Modern Dose, an aesthetic and wellness care center, both in Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Atul “Ardy” Kukar (D.O. ’00), associate chief of cardiology at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital and an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, was excited to help support NYITCOM’s progressive, student-centered program.

“I want other alumni to know that the team at New York Tech is really putting their money to work in the school and for the students,” says Kukar, who sits on the NYITCOM Dean’s Advisory Board. “If we’re able to allow students to pursue the specialty that’s their passion and walk out less in debt with this scholarship, then we’re giving them the gift of freedom.”

“We didn’t come from wealthy backgrounds, so we all feel very thankful to have been able to achieve our medical school goals and become great doctors,” echoes Hoerning. “We wanted to do the same for others by giving something that felt significant, and since we studied and made it through medical school as a group, we decided to give as a group.”

Matt Rutman (D.O. ’00), a board-certified emergency medicine physician at St. Charles Hospital in

Port Jefferson, N.Y., and owner of Balanced Health & Wellness in Wading River, N.Y., was inspired to start giving when he realized how far he has come. “Now that I’m comfortable in my career, I realize that NYITCOM gave me the backbone for success,” says Rutman. “I have lots of NYITCOM students shadow me in the emergency department, and I’m excited to be able to give back to them and guide them in a new way through this scholarship.”

Along with Jason Golbin (D.O., M.B.A., M.S. ’00), chief medical officer and executive vice president at Catholic Health and a member of the NYITCOM Dean’s Advisory Board, Hoerning, Kukar, and Rutman will make their individual contributions to the Circle of Power Endowed Scholarship over five years. The scholarship will be awarded to a second-year NYITCOM student beginning in 2026.

Says Rutman, “By getting involved and creating this scholarship, we’re helping out the future doctors of the world, and I’m grateful that together we can make that happen.”

By Kathrin Havrilla-Sanchez