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Spending four hours in the chemistry lab as lab partners at Wake Forest University was when it all started. This Valentine’s Day, Cy and Kandis Fogleman, 4th-year medical students at the UNC School of Medicine, share how their relationship blossomed as they learned about each other’s love for rural medicine, discovered shared values, and pursued their personal and career goals.

Cy Fogleman always knew he was destined to be a doctor.

“I have always had an internal drive to serve others and an interest in medicine. I remember when I was in elementary school, I told my parents I either wanted to be a doctor or play baseball for the Yankees,” said Cy. “My family’s pediatrician and internal medicine physician served as fantastic mentors, and my parents were very hard-working people who created a supportive environment that encouraged exploration of my interests including medicine.”

The pivotal moment in Cy’s decision to pursue medicine was his brother’s premature birth and his mother’s difficult labor and delivery.

“Spending over 60 days in the NICU with my brother while he was fighting for his life was challenging,” he said. “While sitting in the NICU I came up with the idea for a nonprofit called Project Brotherly Love. This project provides care packages to premature babies being discharged from the NICU. I noticed that many families were very underprepared for a premature baby.”

The birth of this project helped Cy fully realize his passions for medicine and service. He continued to explore those avenues at every turn which led to him going to Wake Forest University to study philosophy and chemistry while completing pre-med requirements. He worked three years on the campus rescue squad as an EMT and then one year with Forsyth County EMS, filled with training and mentorship from very skilled paramedics. It was also at Wake Forest University where Cy met his now wife, Kandis, who also shared his common interest in medicine.

Kandis shared that she never truly thought that she could become a doctor. “No one in my family was a doctor. Actually, no one in my family had even gone to college,” she said. “In high school, I knew I loved science, and I had wonderful teachers who allowed me to realize that I was very motivated and gifted academically,” Kandis said. “This is when I began the path of exploring medicine and working hard to get into a good college.”

Being from rural Wilkes County, NC, Kandis always knew she wanted to help people like her family who has been there for generations. “Throughout my life, I did not know exactly how I wanted to do that until I discovered medicine. I quickly realized that I could provide much-needed, excellent care to people in rural communities as a trusted physician.”

Cy and Kandis met in the general chemistry lab and were lab partners at Wake Forest University. Kandis was a sophomore, and Cy was a junior. They both quickly began to realize how similar they were as they spent four hours together once a week. It was then that the two realized that they had a similar love for family, rural medicine, and service.

Cy and Kandis Fogleman marriedMarried in Medicine

“One of the many reasons we fell in love was because of our common love for medicine, especially rural medicine in North Carolina,” said Cy. “We are both extremely passionate about the state of healthcare in rural North Carolina. We are hoping to provide full-spectrum care, which includes chronic conditions, women’s health, pediatrics, procedures, lifestyle medicine, possibly obstetrics, sports medicine, psychiatric and addiction medicine care.”

It was in 2018 when they both began the steps required to get into medical school. The two studied for the MCAT together, took practice tests together, and took the MCAT together at the same place and at the same time. Cy took a gap year and worked as an EMT while Kandis was finishing up her last year at Wake Forest. Two weeks after Kandis graduated from undergrad, the couple exchanged vows on June 8, 2019. Kandis then began her journey at the UNC School of Medicine while Cy completed post-bac courses. Upon completion, he applied to UNC School of Medicine and started a year after Kandis in 2020.

“Being from Winston Salem, I appreciate the mission of UNC which is partly to train students to improve the health and wellbeing of people in NC,” said Cy. “I am especially thankful to have been given the chance to study at UNC and will be forever grateful that UNC took a chance on me. I also appreciate the Kenan Rural Scholars program which I am a member of. It allows those interested in rural medicine to rotate in rural areas and gain networking and mentorship opportunities with rural physicians.” Kandis said, “I am so thankful to have been able to train at UNC, especially given their dedication to improving the health in NC communities. The faculty have become mentors and friends, and my classmates will soon turn into trusted colleagues.”

Cy and Kandis FoglemanGoals After Match Day

The couple is now preparing for Match Day next month where they will participate in the “couples match” – a process where the two applicants will link their rank order lists for the purpose of obtaining positions in the same geographic location.

“Couples matching will ensure that we end up the same place or at least end up close to each other, so we won’t have to be apart,” said Cy. “Our plan is to enter a residency in Family Medicine in the southeastern US with the ultimate goal of returning to rural NC to practice full scope family medicine.”

The couple hopes to open their own practice one day with a focus on full-scope Family Medicine. Kandis says that she wants to provide the broadest scope of practice possible for patients, including minor outpatient procedures.

“I also have a special interest in mental health and substance use disorder and plan to make this a large part of my practice,” she says. “I also received my Master of Public Health at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health while in medical school. This will allow me to be involved in advocacy for rural areas and legislative work regarding rural primary care workforce pipelines.”

Cy and Kandis FoglemanAs graduation draws near, the couple shares that their love and support for one another has brought them this far in the journey to become physicians. Most importantly, the couple welcomed their first son, Rush, on July 20, 2023. Cy and Kandis prove that sustaining their love, growing a family, and accomplishing career goals can coexist.

“From studying for long hours to time commitment at the hospital, it’s important to have support from your spouse,” said Kandis. “I’m happy that Cy and I have the shared goal of being the best doctors for our patients. We always push each other to continue to grow our knowledge.”

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked Cy and Kandis to offer some advice to other couples who are pursuing medicine.

“Surround yourself with family, friends and mentors who will keep you grounded and motivated,” said Cy. “They can help push you as things get difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship and guidance from others who have been in the same situation you have.”

“Don’t lose yourself as a couple,” said Kandis. “Always maintain your values and your priorities because that is what will make you happy at the end of the day. If you’re happy, you can be a better doctor to your patients.”

Media Contact: Brittany Phillips, Communications Specialist for UNC Health | UNC School of Medicine