There’s Always a Doctor
in Their House
Gabriella Llano is well on her way to becoming the fifth generation of physicians in her family
By Bob Woods
Photograph by David Sutta Photography
Medicine is a family affair for Gabriella Llano (center), here with her mother and grandfather.
August 23, 2019, was an especially momentous day for Ayleen Pinera-Llano, A.B. ’91, M.D. ’95, and her daughter, Gabriella Llano. The occasion was the first John G. Clarkson Freshman White Coat and Pinning Ceremony for new students at the Miller School of Medicine. The special moment occurred when Dr. Pinera-Llano, following an honored tradition, pinned Gabriella — at which point “Gaby,” as she’s known, took the first step to becoming the fifth generation of her mother’s family to enter the medical profession.
Dr. Pinera-Llano, a pediatrician and a director of the Miller School’s Medical Alumni Association, began the rundown of her remarkable lineage:
“My great-grandfather was a physician in Cuba,” she said. “Both of my grandfathers were physicians in Cuba before fleeing to Miami in 1961 and establishing practices here. And my father [Antonio Pinera Jr., M.D.] came to the U.S. at 18, went to medical school at the University of Nebraska, did his residency at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital and is still a family physician in Miami.”
It’s no wonder Dr. Pinera-Llano cried as she put the pin on the lapel of Llano’s white coat.
“It was a very proud moment for me, helping her achieve her dream,” she said. “And I was lucky to have my own father sitting in the audience.”
Rounding out the event was another freshman tradition: the presentation to each student of a stethoscope bearing the Miller School logo. The gift, which spares students the cost of buying the instrument themselves, is made possible by the donations of generous alumni.
Gaby Llano’s decision to enter the family profession was formed early on. “Growing up, I enjoyed seeing how much my mom loved her job,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor, too.” So, well before she graduated from the University of Notre Dame last May, “the Miller School was my No. 1 choice.”
More than a quarter-century has passed since Dr. Pinera-Llano enrolled at the School, and when comparing notes with her daughter on the academic environment, she has found one big difference.
“We all took notes during classes, but now the students watch recorded lectures at home,” she said — making one wonder what early 20th-century methodology her great-grandfather used.
While the pinning ceremony was emotional for the family, it had another personal significance for Llano.
“It takes a lot of hard work to get here,” she said. “When we recited the Hippocratic Oath, it felt like, this is it, we’re going to be doctors. It made me feel proud to be part of my family’s tradition, and it reminded me that all of our hard work is going to be worth it.”