For 198 very nervous students at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, March 17 was more than just St. Patrick’s Day — it was Match Day.

Coordinated by the National Resident Matching Program, thousands of graduating medical students open envelopes at the same time across the country to learn where they will be spending their residency.

“I am delighted to be here with you on this exciting day,” said Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School and director of the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute. “The Class of 2017 will always hold a special place in my heart, as you are the first class I have the privilege of toasting on Match Day in my new role as dean.”

More than two-thirds of the Keck School’s students will be staying in California for all or part of their residency and more than a quarter will join staff at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Internal medicine is the class of 2017’s top specialty, with 48 students matching in that field.

Overheard on Match Day

With emotions running high, here are some of the conversations that were overheard on Match Day:

“I’ve never been happier in my life.”

— Rachel Anderson, to Mark Portman, after they were couples-matched at UC Davis Medical Center

“I’m getting a dog! I’m going to go dog shopping today!”

— Chris Brophy, who will be completing his residency at VA Greater Los Angeles Health System and White Memorial Medical Center

“My knees were so weak. They’re still rubbery right now.”

— Ricardo Gutierrez, who will be completing his residency at University of California, Irvine School of Medicine/Children’s Hospital of Orange County

“His father is a doctor and he always wanted to be a doctor. I think he will be an excellent doctor.”

— Uche Ugwueze, mother of Chidubem Ugwueze, who will complete his residency at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt and Huntington Memorial Hospital