Couple graduate together, begin medical residencies in July


They both earned degrees from DePauw University.

They then started at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the same year.

And just recently, they finished their doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees and will start their family medicine residencies with Franciscan Health in July.

The recent achievement for Kyle and Nicki Whistler, however, was a unique experience.

Instead of participating in a traditional graduation ceremony, wearing a cap and gown and receiving their diplomas in-person, they watched a virtual ceremony on television at Nicki’s parents’ home. The COVID-19 pandemic forced college campuses to close in March and resulted in the cancellation of in-person graduations.

The Whistlers still wore their doctoral regalia and were able to turn their tassels. Nicki’s parents, Dr. Margaret Inman and Dr. Bruce Inman, also wore the doctoral regalia, and Kyle’s parents, Kevin Whistler and Jan Robinson and Kandi and Todd Bollinger, were there, too.

“They were originally supposed to award us our doctoral regalia at our graduation ceremony,” Nicki said of her parents. “They still wore their doctoral regalia with us to emulate an actual graduation ceremony.”

Marian plans to have a celebration later this year for all 2020 graduates, but with the Whistlers’ residency schedule, it may be difficult for them to attend.

They were just glad to be able to have some sort of event to celebrate their big accomplishment now.

Kyle, 26, is a Jackson County native, graduating from Brownstown Central High School in 2012. He then attended DePauw and earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology in 2016.

Nicki, 27, graduated from International School of Indiana in 2010 with a bilingual diploma. She then went to Haverford College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for two years until transferring to DePauw, where she graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.

The couple met at the gym at DePauw in January 2013. Nicki was working out with Kyle’s cousin, Maggie Royalty of Seymour, and Royalty introduced them.

They later got married at the start of their second year of medical school in September 2017.

After graduating from DePauw, Nicki worked as a Spanish and French medical interpreter at various clinics and hospitals in Indianapolis while Kyle finished his undergraduate studies.

“It was challenging dating long distance for two years as I was working and Kyle was going through college, but we made the effort to plan dates as often as we could,” Nicki said.

The Whistlers wanted to stay in Indiana for medical school, and since there are only two of those institutions in the state and they Marian, they chose to go there.

In March, they scheduled a four-week vacation time through Marian, so they were away when the coronavirus health crisis started.

All April clinical rotations for medical students were canceled throughout the state, but the Whistlers had enough credit hours, so it didn’t affect their ability to graduate on time. Some of their classmates, however, had to take online courses to complete requirements.

They both said it felt strange thinking about becoming doctors but not being able to care for those affected by the health crisis.

During their upcoming residencies at the hospital just south of Southport, they will treat patients there and at the clinic, including the emergency room, labor and delivery unit, cardiology service and other specialties.

Once their residency is complete, they will become attending physicians in June 2023 and will be looking for jobs in Indiana.

As of now, Kyle is thinking about working in an urgent care, and Nicki is thinking of working in a family practice office and delivering babies.

“We both believe in delayed gratification, which means working hard in the present so you can reap the rewards down the road,” Nicki said. “Throughout college, we had to miss some events, but looking back, it was all worth it. There will always be another party or another fun event to go to, so missing a few while studying will not affect you as much you think it will.”

Finishing medical school is among the many accomplishments for the Whistlers since they started their postsecondary journeys.

At DePauw, Kyle held many executive positions for the Delta Upsilon fraternity during his four years as a member, including serving as president his junior year. He also was the Ultimate Frisbee captain during his junior and senior years.

Nicki was a collegiate athlete on the track and field teams at Haverford and DePauw. She also was president of the DePauw Mortar Board during her senior year and was an organic chemistry teaching assistant her junior year for Kyle’s chemistry class.

For honors, Kyle received the Joe H. Petty and C. Norman Frees Delta Upsilon Fraternity Endowed Scholarship his junior and senior years at DePauw and was awarded the George H. James Jr. Scholarship through Schneck Medical Center in Seymour during medical school.

Nicki received the Donald J. Cook Chemistry Scholarship at DePauw her junior year, and Kyle and Nicki both received the President’s Award for Excellence, a four-year scholarship valued at half of the annual tuition at DePauw.

Also, the Whistlers traveled together to Restoration Gateway in Uganda, Africa, on two medical mission trips with Nicki’s parents.

“Each time, we stayed for several weeks, helping in the local hospital and teaching science and math in the local high school,” Nicki said.

With all they have accomplished, the Whistlers hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

“We would love to give back to the Jackson County community,” the couple said. “Feel free to reach out if you have questions about college or medical school.”

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