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Saying Farewell to the Class of 2016 Graduates

May 19, 2016

Keynote speaker Leana Wen, MD, MSc

The Class of 2016 received their doctoral hoods in a special graduation ceremony at the Hippodrome Theater on May 19. Hundreds of family, friends and faculty were there to cheer on the 159 graduates as they officially transitioned from students to doctors. “You have been trained at a top-tier medical institution. 

You have been trained by a dedicated faculty that is amongst the very best in the world,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Therefore, in the words of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, go confidently in the direction of your dreams. You are ready.”

Class President Edgar Petras, MD, and his classmates seemed to agree. “We’re going from ‘I want to be a doctor’ or ‘I am going to be a doctor’ to ‘I am a doctor’ and that’s exciting,” he said, to a chorus of cheers from the crowd. “And while we all know the hard work is over, days like today are a good time to stop and reflect about why we wanted to be doctors.”

In an inspirational keynote speech, Leana Wen, MD, MSC, reminded the graduates that even though they have received top-notch training, not everything that determines length of life and quality of health is about healthcare. She encouraged them to ask about the lives of their future patients outside of the emergency room or hospital or doctor’s office, to find out about factors that might be contributing to health issues, including their living situations, the safety of their environments, their access to healthy foods, and addiction. She challenged them to think of every interaction as a chance at intervention.

“As physicians, we are entrusted with a special privilege: to identify inequalities, call them out, and close the gap of disparities,” said Dr. Wen. “It will only happen once—the day you go from being medical student to doctor. I feel inspired to be part of this group who will serve our patients, champion our communities, and tackle our society’s injustices.”

Michael Cryor, President of the Cryor Group and Chair of the School of Medicine Board of Visitors, was also inspired by the class. “The world awaits your talent, your passion and your dedication,” he said. “I encourage all of you to take the time to truly appreciate your accomplishment, which is truly worthy of celebration. Know that all of your hard work means so much to so many people, not only in this room, but across the city and the world.”

In doing so, graduates will truly be the doctors we want them to be. Dean Reece encouraged the future doctors to realize the impact they can have. “Graduates, you must pause from time to time to really soak in the difference you are making in people’s lives,” he advised. “Do not take this for granted, for they do not. Whether you are treating patients, unlocking mysteries of health and disease, or mentoring the next generation of physicians and scientists, you are changing lives.”Faculty speaker Bennie Jeng, MD, MS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, reminded students that “you are being given the privilege of taking care of patients,” he said. “Don’t forget that behind every eyeball or what’s under the drape is a person, that the cough you’re hearing is coming from a person, that behind that x-ray is a person. Treat each of them with the utmost care and compassion.”

Graduation ceremonies were also held on May 19 for the Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science (pictured below), the Department of Medical and Research Technology (DMRT), the Masters in Genetic Counseling program, and the Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS). The Department of Epidemiology & Public Health will have their graduation exercises on May 20.

Watch 2016 Graduation Videos:


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