USJ’s PA Studies Team brings home First Place Trophy with ConnAPA State Medical Challenge Bowl victory 

The University of Saint Joseph PA Studies Team was the big winner on Saturday, June 1, taking first place at the annual Connecticut Academy of Physician Associates (ConnAPA) State Medical Challenge Bowl held at Quinnipiac University. This was USJ’s first time winning the Medical Challenge Bowl. A team from USJ came in second in 2023. 

The event was held as part of the ConnAPA’s annual PA Student Day. ConnAPA supports and advocates for the Connecticut PA profession, providing educational opportunities, networking opportunities, employment resources and professional advocacy. 

The competition at the Challenge Bowl was fierce, with PA programs from Yale School of Medicine, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac, and last year’s champions, the University of Bridgeport. During the competition students were tested about their knowledge of microbiology, anatomy, physical diagnosis, OB/GYN, pulmonary, cardiology, primary care, emergency medicine, and surgery. 

The USJ team of Donna Eisner ’24, West Hartford; Tori Hamilton ’24, Bronx, N.Y.; Liam O’Grady ’25, Goffstown, N.H.; and Alesha Ranger-Wilson ’25, New Britain, prevailed in front of almost 200 PA students from around the state. The team was cheered on by an energized group of 40 USJ PA students representing the classes of ’24, 25 and ’26, as well as Tricia Marriott, director and chair and associate professor of PA Studies at USJ.  

USJ’s winning PA Studies team, from left to right: Alesha Ranger-Wilson, Tori Hamilton, Donna Eisner, and Liam O’Grady

“It was an exciting and thrilling experience competing amongst PAs from other universities in Connecticut. Our main goal was to break University of Bridgeport’s winning streak!” said Tori Hamilton. “We had such a great time. My teammates and I are honored to bring the trophy home to USJ for the first time. We will be rooting to continue our streak next year.” 

“We are so very proud of our students, not only for their demonstration of medical knowledge, but also for the team spirit and support they showed for ConnAPA,” Marriott said. “With 50% of our students in attendance on a beautiful Saturday, they represented USJ well at this state event. I would also like to recognize the efforts of our USJ Faculty and Staff, as well as their commitment to our students’ success.”  

“It was exhilarating and nerve-racking competing against the other Connecticut PA programs, but it was awesome defeating the three-time defending champions, University of Bridgeport,” said Alesha Ranger-Wilson. “Our program has tried on several occasions not to be second best to them and this year we were able to knab the title. This felt like quite an accomplishment, and I am extremely proud of my team and the USJ program.”

It feels good bringing home the trophy,” agreed Liam O’Grady. “Now we have a streak to maintain!” 

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