What is perhaps the most international class of medical students in Yale’s history arrived in New Haven in late August, hailing from the United States and as far away as Ecuador, Russia, Hong Kong and Ethiopia. And while the global character of the Class of 2003 is more the result of happenstance than any international recruiting effort, according to administrators, it is nonetheless a defining feature of the incoming crop of medical students.At the White Coat Ceremony, for example, there were one or two fewer parents in the audience to watch their children enter medicine. Mari Rebane’s parents in Estonia wanted to attend, but the distance and scheduling proved an obstacle, she said. Rebane, who graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, sent them a videotape of the ceremony instead.Other members of the class come from Canada, Egypt, India, Ireland, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Taiwan and Ukraine — 15 foreign countries in all. All attended U.S. colleges before applying to medical school, according to new Director of Admissions Richard A. Silverman. The class is also quite diverse. Forty-four percent of the new students are women. Fifteen students are African Americans, 11 are Hispanic and 22 are Asian Americans.The class is one of the strongest academically in the medical school’s history as well. The 105 students have an average GPA of 3.71 and a total of 136 different majors. They come from 46 undergraduate colleges, including Yale, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Amherst, MIT, McGill, Emory, Bowdoin, Clemson, Boston College and Swarthmore. Nearly a quarter of the class members — 23 students — were Yale undergraduates, from a total of 196 applicants from Yale College.The total number of applicants, 2,469, was down from 3,094 the year before, reflecting both a national drop in medical school applications and a new application process for medical schools across the country. Last year Yale did not participate in the American Medical College Application Service, a centralized application processing service, but will be among 113 U.S. schools to do so this year. “It’s likely that applications will rise substantially as a result,” said Silverman.Public health and PA studentsMany of the 105 students enrolled in the master’s of public health degree program arrived with practical experience under their belts, including service in the Peace Corps, government health departments and community-based organizations. Members of the class come from 11 countries, 22 states and 87 undergraduate schools. They hold degrees in 34 subjects; 44 majored in the biological sciences. The group includes 13 physicians, two attorneys, one veterinarian, one dentist and four students with master’s degrees. Students range in age from 20 to 50, with an average age of 25.The 36 students who make up the Physician Associate Program’s Class of 2001 include a Navy medical corpsman who was assigned to the presidential detail, a Columbia University graduate who worked on Biosphere 2 in Arizona, and a smattering of research technicians, paramedics and EMTs. The class, which began the 25-month program in early August, has 26 women and 10 men. Collectively, they hold nine bachelor’s degrees in psychology, eight in biology, two in medical technology, two in physiological science, as well as degrees in music, liberal arts, philosophy, Spanish, sociology, English and human development. The group also includes three students with master’s degrees in deafness rehabilitation, exercise physiology and geography. The students’ average age is 28.