REUNION REFLECTIONS: Marie-Elena Dragonetti “Thrilled to return to campus”

That Marie-Elena Dragonetti, D.O.’94, will attend her 25-year reunion at DMU in May is a testament to her fond memories of the University and her superb patient care. Although she has not been back to campus since she graduated, she often shared her love of the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences (UOMHS), now DMU, with her patients.

“Every time I talk about Des Moines, my eyes sparkle,” she says.

Dr. Dragonetti earned two bachelor of science degrees from New York University in psychology and philosophy and was then accepted by New York Medical College. She asked to defer enrollment because her grandfather, with whom she was very close, was dying; the college denied her request. Four days after he passed on March 25, 1989, she got an invitation to interview at UOMHS.

“I got out a map to find out where Des Moines, Iowa, was,” she recalls. She interviewed on June 16, 1990, her grandfather’s birthday, and the rest is history. Now a physician with Garden City, NY, Primary Care, which is affiliated with NYU Winthrop Hospital, she spoke so affectionately about Des Moines and her medical alma mater that one of her longtime patients, Patricia Smith, left her an open-date roundtrip ticket to Des Moines when she passed. Dr. Dragonetti plans to attend her reunion with Ms. Smith’s daughter Ann.

The Brooklyn, NY, native has numerous fond memories of her medical student days, such as a co-ed softball team, the Screaming Beavers. During games, she donned a beaver costume. An award-winning guitarist who has played in rock bands since she was 10, she also was part of a UOMHS band, “Talamus,” that played such venues as the Duck Blind near campus. Its name was inspired by the way a particular anatomy professor pronounced the name of a small structure of the brain, the thalamus.

“We had the best class. We were a spirited bunch who just loved each other,” she says. “If anyone was failing, we pulled them up. We wouldn’t leave anyone behind.”

Nicknamed “Doc Rocket,” Dr. Dragonetti recalled her class’s “walk-through,” a campus celebration held when clinical students completed didactic study and were about to transition to clerkships. “The class walked through campus while others [on the sidelines] played kazoos and threw candy,” she says. She arranged for the Dowling Catholic High School marching band to lead the class through the procession.

“We had to go out with a bang,” she says.

Celebrate YOUR reunion with a bang: It’s a guaranteed great time with fellow alumni, faculty and the 2019 graduates. To see the schedule of events, find out who’s coming, register your attendance and more, visit the reunion website.