A picture containing tree, outdoor, grass, ground  Description automatically generated How We Met at NJMS

Alumni Share On-Campus Love Stories in Celebration of Valentine's Day

In celebration of Valentine's Day, we asked Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) Class of 2008 alumni and board members, Drs. Chris DeCotiis and Toni Beninato, to share their on-campus love story.

Chris and Toni met as medical students at NJMS. Fast-forward more than 10 years later, and both alums are now treating patients and raising their young son here in New Jersey.

Chris specializes in pulmonary and critical care and currently serves as an attending physician at Atlantic Health System, while Toni, who specializes in endocrine surgery, serves as an assistant professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Read on to learn about how they met and their passion for empowering our vibrant medical school community.

"We met on the first day of anatomy. For months, we focused on our studies, spending time memorizing nerves in the brachial plexus and important enzymatic reactions. A home poker game was the setting for the romantic spark and the connection continued to grow. 

"A medical school relationship, however, is not without unique challenges. Toni matched into a general surgery program in New York City and Chris went into a medicine residency in Washington, DC.  Countless late nights on Amtrak and the following tired morning rounds became the norm.  Still, watching the fireworks over the Hudson River and romantic dinners at Old Ebbit Grille made it all worth it.  We were married at the Jersey Shore in August 2013.

"Since that incredible day, it's been an endless adventure.  After finishing training in San Francisco, we returned to New Jersey to be near loved ones. Chris started his career as a pulmonologist/intensivist at Atlantic Health System, and Toni joined at Robert Wood Johnson as an endocrine surgeon.  In the most exciting adventure yet, we welcomed a beautiful son to our family in June 2019. 

"Rutgers New Jersey Medical School isn't just the place that we met. It is the place and people that molded us into the physicians we are today. Even before our first day at NJMS, it was clear that the school had an unparalleled commitment to its students. We jumped at the opportunity to become more involved with the institution that gave us and so many others the skills to succeed. The Alumni Board and the extended alumni network work tirelessly to further the success of the NJMS students and the surrounding community. Just as it is part of our story, we are looking forward to being part of the story of NJMS for many years to come." – Drs. Chris DeCotiis and Toni Beninato, Class of 2008