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An uproarious farewell for the Class of 2017

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 May 20, 2017

Except for that poignant moment of silence for loved ones who passed away during the last four years, the noise volume at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall was mostly off the charts Saturday morning.

In other words, it was a joyous, boisterous, perfect graduation ceremony for the Class of 2017. For each of the 117 graduates, there was at least applause – and sometimes prolonged, mega-decibel, multifamily exclamations. And every single grad – the one on crutches, the one with Superman socks, the ones who had to crouch to be hooded, each and every one – had a big smile.

As always, the loudest sustained ovation was for the graduates who are going into the military. Even some of them, trying so hard to maintain an all-business facial expression, couldn’t help but show a bit of a smile.

Class President Alessandra Taylor referred to her classmates as “the most selfless, compassionate and hardworking group of people” she’d ever met.

“What got us through the endless hours of inhaling formaldehyde in the anatomy lab,” she said, “was each other. You see, medical students are competitive people by nature; these are the cream of the crop from each of their undergraduate programs; they had to fight to get here. But from Day One, this class knew the importance of teamwork – a skill so crucial and many times neglected in medicine. We shared notes, we stayed late to help each other. Maybe because we knew that our classmates could have the lives of our loved ones in their hands one day.”

The commencement speaker, Interim Clinical Sciences Chair Jonathan Appelbaum, got a laugh with this preface: “I would like to use the format of one of our great 21st-century thinkers – David Letterman. Today, I offer you my list of the Top 10 Random Thoughts for the Graduating Class of 2017.”

One piece of advice he gave the graduates was for them to devote their full attention to the patient in front of them. “Your patients will often tell you their deepest personal secrets,” said Appelbaum, the Laurie L. Dozier Jr., M.D., Education Director and Professor of Internal Medicine. “Things that maybe they would only divulge to their clergy or lawyer. Things that they wouldn’t even share with their family. Remember: Up to 80 percent of your diagnosis can come from a patient’s history. You need to be present to hear it.”

As usual, Dean John P. Fogarty went into great detail on the graduating students’ demographics and achievements:

  • He bragged about their academic performance. For example, he said they had the highest average score of all College of Medicine classes on the NBME shelf exams for their clinical rotations.
  • He noted that the diversity of this class, like its predecessors, illustrated the effectiveness of the medical school’s outreach programs. In fact, he said, once again this is the only medical school in the country that’s in the top 10 for percentage of both African-American and Hispanic students.
  • He singled out the Chapman Community Health Program at Maryland Oaks Crossing, which was established by six members of this class. They and classmates adopted the transitional housing community and hosted many activities for adults and children. “It has become an interprofessional student experience with nursing and social work students and truly engages the community,” Fogarty said.
  • He pointed out the varied backgrounds students had brought with them. This class included a former campaign manager, a university trustee, a competitive swimmer, an English-Portuguese translator, an FSU cheerleader, a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” actor, a biofuel researcher, a deputy sheriff, a billiards champion … and an All-American football player/Rhodes Scholar.

That last one was Myron Rolle, whose well-known football-to-Oxford-to-neurosurgery journey has attracted nationwide attention. On this day, though, everyone in cap and gown was a celebrity.

Singled out for special recognition was Myra Hurt, until recently the longtime senior associate dean for research and graduate programs at the College of Medicine. In recognition of one of her many contributions, Fogarty gave her a plaque that read, in part: “It’s impossible to imagine a more effective founding director for the College of Medicine’s research program than Dr. Myra Hurt.”

When the diplomas were handed out, regional campus deans took turns standing behind the grads onstage and hooding them. A handful of grads, though, were hooded by a physician parent, sibling or spouse. For example, Torrie Reynolds-Herbst was hooded by her husband, Alex Herbst, who had gotten his diploma only seconds before her.

Now the brand-new M.D.s will make the journey from fourth-year veterans at medical school to first-year rookies at their residency program. Two months ago they learned which program will be their home for the next three or more years, depending on their specialty. More than half of them are pursuing primary care.

The day before the ceremony, 40 students were honored at an awards assembly. Emily Kaltz led the class with six recognitions (including honor societies); Angelina Malamo had five; and Rodolfo Loureiro and Susanna Zorn had four each. Kaltz also captured the equivalent of the MVP award: the J. Ocie Harris Outstanding Student Award. (See awards summary below.)

Sprinkled among the new M.D.s were 11 younger faces, the master’s students graduating from the Bridge Program. In 10days they’ll be back in school — this time as members of the College of Medicine’s Class of 2021.

The college now has 1,146 alumni.

Click here to watch a replay of the ceremony in its entirety (For best results, you might want to view it with Explorer.)


CLASS OF 2017 HONOREES

COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AWARDS

  • J. Ocie Harris Outstanding Student Award: Emily Kaltz
  • Myra M. Hurt Leadership in Medicine Award: Tamara Marryshow Granados
  • Mission Award: Paulin Gotrace
  • Nobles/Brown Altruism in Medicine Award: Susanna Zorn
  • Student Research Award: Catalina Zapata
  • Robin McDougall Access to Care Award: Staci Biegner and Henry Huson
  • Linda Stine Interprofessional Leadership Award: Juan Lopez
  • Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award: Staci Biegner, Donya Salmasinia Imanirad, Emily Kaltz, Angelina Malamo, Thomas Shakar, Susanna Zorn


SPECIALTY AWARDS

  • ACEP Medical Student Professionalism and Service Award: Rodolfo Loureiro
  • Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award: Quinton Campbell
  • Outstanding Graduate in Family Medicine: Ariel Hoffman
  • Florida Geriatrics Society Award for Outstanding Student: Tamara Marryshow Granados
  • Internal Medicine Award: Emily Kaltz
  • American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists District XII 2017 Outstanding Medical Student Achievement Award “to outstanding graduates entering OB-GYN residency program”): Angelina Malamo and Princess Urbina
  • Merritt Ryals Clements, M.D., Award for Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology: Alessandra Taylor
  • Excellence in Pediatrics Award: Nicole Brunner
  • AACAP Psychiatry Award: Stephanie Fall
  • The Edward L. Bradley Excellence in General Surgery Award: Stacy Mae Ranson
  • The Robert D. Snyder, M.D., Award for Outstanding Student in General Surgery with a Focus on Breast Cancer: Henry Huson
  • American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation (women in top 10 percent of graduating class): Krista Brinkerhoff, Rebecca Freeland, Emily Kaltz, Amber Kirby, Diana Mosquera, Emily Ost
  • American Medical Women’s Association Outstanding Graduate: Ashley Knarzer


REGIONAL CAMPUS AWARDS

(For “the most outstanding student at each College of Medicine regional campus”):

  • Daytona Beach – Ariel Hoffman and Angelina Malamo
  • Fort Pierce – Diana Mosquera
  • Orlando – Rodolfo Loureiro
  • Pensacola – Susanna Zorn
  • Sarasota – Kevin Coughlin
  • Tallahassee – Blake Bauer


HONOR SOCIETIES

  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society inductees (the only national honor medical society): Blake Bauer, Kevin Coughlin, Allison Ellis, Rebecca Imran Freeland, Jacob Hawkins, Heather Highsmith, Emily Kaltz, Eric Keasler, Rodolfo Loureiro, Angelina Malamo, Diana Mosquera, Emily Ost, Mueez Qureshi, Stacy Ranson, Torrie Reynolds-Herbst, Carlos Rubiano Jr., Michael Warren, Tristan Weir, Catalina Zapata
  • Gold Humanism Honor Society inductees (“excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion, and dedication to service”): Blake Bauer, Staci Biegner, Nicole Brunner, Allison Ellis, Ariel Hoffman, Emily Kaltz, Joelle Kane, Ilisa Lee, Juan Lopez, Rodolfo Loureiro, Angelina Malamo, Tamara Marryshow Granados, Stacy Ranson, Jarrod Robertson, Carlos Rubiano Jr., Tyler Wellman, Susanna Zorn


MILITARY PINNING CEREMONY

Promotion in rank for students in the armed services:

  • Air Force – Reid Hester, Amber Kirby
  • Army – Ariel Hoffman
  • Navy — Eric Brown, Blake Davis, Donald Engle, Anthony Miller, Hunter Renfro


SUMMARY OF STUDENT HONOREES (in alphabetical order)

  • Blake Bauer (Regional Campus Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Staci Biegner (Robin McDougall Access to Care Award, Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Krista Brinkerhoff (American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation)
  • Nicole Brunner (Excellence in Pediatrics Award, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Quinton Campbell (Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award)
  • Kevin Coughlin (Regional Campus Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Allison Ellis (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Stephanie Fall (AACAP Psychiatry Award)
  • Rebecca Imran Freeland (American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Paulin Gotrace (Upholding the Mission Award)
  • Jacob Hawkins (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Heather Highsmith (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Ariel Hoffman (Outstanding Graduate in Family Medicine, Regional Campus Award, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Henry Huson (Robin McDougall Access to Care Award, Robert D. Snyder M.D. Award for Outstanding Student in General Surgery with a Focus on Breast Cancer, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Donya Salmasinia Imanirad (Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award)
  • Emily Kaltz (J. Ocie Harris Outstanding Student Award, Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award, Internal Medicine Award, American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Joelle Kane (Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Eric Keasler (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Amber Kirby (American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation)
  • Ashley Knarzer (American Medical Women's Association Outstanding Graduate)
  • Ilisa Lee (Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Juan Lopez (Linda Stine Interprofessional Leadership Award, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Rodolfo Loureiro (ACEP Medical Student Professionalism and Service Award, Regional Campus Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Angelina Malamo (Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists District XII 2015 Outstanding Medical Student Achievement Award, Regional Campus Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Tamara Marryshow Granados (Myra M. Hurt Leadership in Medicine Award, Florida Geriatrics Society Award for Outstanding Student in Geriatrics, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Diana Mosquera (American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation, Regional Campus Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Emily Ost (American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Mueez Qureshi (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Stacy Ranson (Ed Bradley Excellence in Surgery Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Torrie Reynolds-Herbst (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Jarrod Robertson (Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Carlos Rubiano Jr. (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Thomas Shakar (Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award)
  • Alessandra Taylor (Merritt Ryals Clements M.D. Award for Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology)
  • Princess Urbina (American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists District XII 2015 Outstanding Medical Student Achievement Award)
  • Michael Warren (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Tristan Weir (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Tyler Wellman (Gold Humanism Honor Society)
  • Catalina Zapata (Student Research Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society)
  • Susanna Zorn (Nobles/Brown Altruism in Medicine Award, Chapman Community Health Program Founders Award, Regional Campus Award, Gold Humanism Honor Society)
     

‘CLIMB HIGH, CLIMB FAR’: COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
Jonathan Appelbaum, M.D.

President Thrasher, Dean Fogarty, Bridge Class of 2017. My fellow faculty, friends and family of the graduates. Welcome. It is with much pride that I introduce to you our new physicians — the FSU College of Medicine Class of 2017. Please let’s stand and give them a big round of applause.

Now, I’d like the audience to indulge me and allow me to face our graduates.

As I reflected on what wisdom I could impart upon this great class, it brought back memories of my own graduation ceremony some 38 years ago. Frankly, I could not remember who spoke or what they said that day. So I am convinced that no matter what I say today, it will probably share the same fate as the Encyclopedia Britannica or the phone booth — both gone and forgotten! Therefore, please excuse me if I take literary license with some of the remarks that I will make to you today, many of which you will probably not remember after this weekend.

I would like to use the format of one of our great 21st-century thinkers — David Letterman. Today, I offer you my list of the Top 10 Random Thoughts for the Graduating Class of 2017.

#10. Use the magic of LAYING ON OF HANDS.
Tremendous power lies in therapeutic touch. Don’t be afraid to touch your patients. When examining them, shake their hands, pat them on the arm, feel their skin. Look into their ears and eyes. These little things will tell you much about them. What do you feel, what do you see? Use the tools that you have been taught to use. Already, many of you have bought your own. I still have the stethoscope that I was given as an entering first-year student. (Yes, in those days we were actually given some of our medical equipment!) Although the company that made it is no longer in existence, it is still very valuable to me and I cherish and use it all the time. I have a fancy and expensive electronic stethoscope, but I believe that I can hear much better through my trustworthy old one. I firmly believe what one of my medical school faculty once told me: “It is what is between the earpieces that is most important.”

#9. HEAR your patients.
I don’t mean just to hear what they are saying. I mean to take the time to LISTEN to what they are saying and HOW they are saying it. Do they sound anxious, fearful, depressed, lost? By actively listening and being engaged when they talk to you, you will learn much about them. Be mindful and devote your full attention to the patient who is in front of you. Your patients will often tell you their deepest personal secrets. Things that maybe they would only divulge to their clergy or lawyer. Things that they wouldn’t even share with their family. Remember: Up to 80 percent of your diagnosis can come from a patient’s history. You need to be present to hear it.

#8. TALK to your patients.
Use all of the skills that you have learned these past years – reflection, summary, silence. Many times it is what you say — or possibly what you don’t say — that fosters the necessary communication partnership. A brief pause, a nod or a gesture may do more to encourage your patient to open up to you than probing questions.

#7. LOOK at your patients.
See them as people. Connect with your patients on a human-to-human level. You need to see them as someone who may be ill but who is also a person capable of being whole and healthy. In order to do this, you need to watch them to understand their nonverbal communication.

# 6. CONNECT with your patients.
It is important that you bond with your patients. Get to know them as a person. Find out about their life. Who is their family? What are their hopes, their wishes? How has their illness affected them and their loved ones? As Margaret Hamburg, former commissioner of the FDA, stated in her 2012 commencement address at Stanford School of Medicine: “Patients do not put their trust in machines or devices. They put their trust in you. You have already spent many years studying, training, doing research and meeting with patients. And in all likelihood, you have many more years of education ahead of you. It is important to remember that the more skilled you become, the more specialized you become, and the more dependent on technology you become — the easier it is to lose your humanity, forget your compassion, and ignore your instincts. One last piece of advice: Never, ever lose your moral compass.”

Now I’d like to switch gears and talk about YOU.

#5. LISTEN to your heart.
You need to find your passion in this big field called medicine. Hopefully, you have chosen a specialty that will inspire you for the next 30, 40 or even 50 years. But don’t be surprised if you discover that your passion has waned or maybe even completely changed. Medicine is a broad field, and it is possible to switch your career path. The earlier you realize this, the better. It is important to make any necessary changes as soon as you can. Many of you here today know that my own career has taken several different paths. This is true of many of the faculty here. The days of hanging out one’s shingle and practicing medicine in one place for an entire career have become a rarity. It is necessary for each and every one of you to understand that change is one way to promote wellness and prevent burnout. Recognize the signs of burnout — the lack of empathy, feelings of frustration and, especially, the loss of the joy in what you do. These, unfortunately, seem to be prevalent in the field of medicine today. Take care of yourselves!

#4. Remember the MISSION of the FSU College of Medicine.
It is a fact that all of you memorized our mission statement for your interview. If not, you would not be sitting here today. Regardless of what field of medicine you practice, it is your duty to serve the underserved and those who suffer from health disparities. There are many ways to accomplish this, and I know that each of you will find the path that is right for you.

#3. Learn to deal with LOSS.
Unfortunately, many of you here are already familiar with loss – the loss of patients, the loss of loved ones. There are other losses that you may have encountered while here. The loss of individual freedom – who said medical school would be fun? The loss of time with friends and family. The loss of being able to earn an income. Residency will not be a picnic, either. There will be times when you will have to say NO to many of life’s happenings during the next three to seven years. Your vocation, medicine, will take precedence over family and friends. One of my mentors, a wise family physician who took me under his wing when I first started in practice right out of residency, warned me, and my significant other at the time, that I was going to be “married to medicine.” He was right. The people closest to you may not always understand this. It may be hard for them to accept that you may not always be around. Things will not always go well with a patient, or you may be needed in the OR. Babies don’t always arrive on a planned schedule, and doctors are always needed on hospital wards. Experiencing these types of losses may make you feel alone. Develop a support system. It is important to know that you are not alone. Remember that you need to care for your mental health as well as your physical health.

#2. GET INVOLVED professionally.
Medicine is changing very rapidly. Stay involved – in your practice or clinic, your hospital, your local, state and/or national organizations, and your professional organizations. You are our next generation of leaders, and I have no doubt, based on your predecessors, that many of you will become chief residents and future trailblazers. Staying involved is the only way to effect change. Sadly, past generations have not always left this country’s health care system in great shape.

And finally #1. GIVE BACK to the profession.
I can’t begin to emphasize enough how important it is for you to leave your mark on the profession of medicine. There are things you can do in your community – teach, volunteer at a free clinic or a homeless shelter, spend time with a nonprofit agency that can use your skills. As medical education moves from the ivory tower to the community health center and clinic, I invite each of you to join the clinical faculty of a medical school when you finish your residency, so that you can impart your knowledge and enthusiasm for medicine to future students.

In my talk to you, I wanted to balance the realistic with the optimistic. One of my inspirations was something I saw every day during my undergraduate days. It was inscribed on the gate leading to the science quad. Written by the 19th-century educator and theologian Mark Hopkins, it stated: “Climb High, Climb Far, your goal the sky, your aim the star.” I have no doubt that each and every one of you will aim for your own star.

So, thank you, David Letterman, and to the Class of 2017: You have the knowledge and the skills to reach your star and beyond. It is now your task to make your faculty and the College of Medicine proud. I have faith that all of you will. THANK YOU.


‘I FELT LIKE I BELONGED’: CLASS PRESIDENT’S REMARKS
Alessandra Taylor

Good morning! Class of 2017, faculty, staff, Bridge program graduates, and loved ones, welcome.
It is a great honor for me to stand here on behalf of the incredible Class of 2017!

I’d also like to take a moment to address the Bridge class. I, too, am a Bridge Program graduate, and I am confident that you have an incredible ride in front of you. However, I do have to tell you that the past five classes’ presidents and/or vice presidents were Bridge alumni – so you have some big shoes to fill. But no pressure! ;) You should be incredibly proud of yourselves and honored to be a part of such a great program. And when you get discouraged in the next four years – because it WILL happen at some point – I hope you remember those who came before you, remember us, and know that you’re never alone in this. Congratulations, Bridge graduates!!!

Before I tell you how this class is the best thing that’s happened to humanity, let me tell you a little bit about myself...

I was born and raised in Brazil. As the daughter of a sales rep, I’ve lived everywhere, and even in my own native language I’ve always had an accent... I moved to the U.S. at the age of 16, learned the language and, although fluent enough to communicate and succeed in school, still had an accent, so I didn’t speak up much. Until my college freshman English professor told me that I should speak up more because Americans love accents and I should embrace it ... so here I am ... but you see, my quiet behavior was NOT a personality thing ... I LOVE TO TALK! Instead, I hated speaking up because no matter how much I tried, people would always know I was an outsider.

You might be asking yourself: “What the heck is she doing up there, then?” I have no idea! BUT, what I CAN tell you is that, four years ago, for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. Even though I don't sound like the folk here, I am NOT an outsider. These men and women not only accepted me, they took me in as their own. THEY CHOSE to have me – accent and all – to represent them, to SPEAK on their behalf. But don’t be mistaken, this has NOTHING to do with me/my accomplishments. THEY elected a first-generation college graduate, immigrant, Latina woman as their class president – because THAT is who this class is! They are an incredibly diverse group of people who understand the beauty of diversity and the sanctity of looking beyond our own biases.

Our country is going through some divisive times now, but you can rest assured that if it’s up to the men and women on this stage, the future of health care is brighter than ever! I can guarantee you that you and your loved ones will not only receive exceptional medical care from brilliant doctors but will be CARED FOR, beyond your symptoms and diseases – as unique individuals.

The FSU College of Medicine has been our home for the past four years. It has taken us in, guarded and guided us but, above all, has accepted nothing less than everything we have to give. And this class had A LOT to give!

Four years ago we were nothing more than scared and excited freshmen meeting our first patients, which we’d learn would become our greatest teachers! We memorized as many mnemonics as we could, had it engraved in our brains that Some Angry Lady Figured Out PMS and that the Water goes under the bridge. But what got us through the endless hours of inhaling formaldehyde in the anatomy lab was each other. You see, medical students are competitive people by nature; these are the cream of the crop from each of their undergraduate programs; they had to fight to get here. But from Day One, this class knew the importance of teamwork – a skill so crucial and many times neglected in medicine. We shared notes, we stayed late to help each other. Maybe because we knew that our classmates could have the lives of our loved ones in their hands one day – so better make sure they know their stuff, right? But those who, like me, had the privilege of working with these men and women know that that’s just who they are. This is the most selfless, compassionate and hardworking group of people I’ve ever met! I’d confidently trust my loved ones to their care; to your care.

In May of 2013, Dean Fogarty addressed the incoming class and asked us to look to our left and look to our right. *So I ask again, look to your left and your right. These men and women are your colleagues, your friends, your family. But don’t fool yourselves, these aren’t the same men and women who were sitting next to you in the auditorium in 2013. The men and women here today have scars. They have more knowledge than most people on Earth. They’re professionals, doctors, they are healers.

This transformation didn’t happen overnight. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the people in the audience and those watching at home. Those who have been our cheerleaders way before we got that precious acceptance letter. I’d like to acknowledge our family and friends for supporting us, for keeping us grounded. And to all husbands, wives, significant others, thank you for putting up with us – YOU are the true heroes.

Through these past four years, our class has gone through a rollercoaster of events: from engagements and marriages (lots of them), to children being born ... to the unfortunate passing of a parent, a sibling, a loved one. I’d like us to take a moment to acknowledge those who have left us sooner than we would’ve liked and who we wish were here today. Will you please join me in a moment of silence to recognize our class’s loved ones who have passed. (15 seconds) I hope you know that wherever they are, they are incredibly proud of you.

My hope and prayer for us is that:
1. We’ll hold on to whatever it is that was impactful enough to convince us that enduring the rigors of medical training was worth it. Because it is.
2. When you find yourself face down on the floor whether due to lack of sleep or because you can’t explain life and death, may you have a shoulder to cry on and a friendly face to go back to – most likely someone who is in here today. And for what it’s worth, you’ll always have my shoulder and this face.

The work isn’t done yet. As the great and only Dr. Romrell would say, although we have reached many rocks, we haven’t finished climbing that mountain yet. The hard work is just beginning. Residency will try to take us down, it’ll yell at us, take away our sleep, our social life, bring us to our knees. BUT at the end of the day, at the end of those very long days, we’ll go right back in because there is NOTHING else in this world we’d rather do! Because what we do matters! And, in my opinion, because we were meant to do this!

To the College of Medicine, thank you for believing in each one of us and making sure we knew we were more than another number to you, we were part of a family!

To my classmates, thank you for embracing diversity in its deepest and purest way! Thank YOU for making the past four years much better than I could’ve ever dreamed. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made when you chose to follow this path. Thank you for being extraordinary human beings, and I have no doubt you’ll be exemplary physicians.

Tonight we celebrate how great we are. But let us never fool ourselves into thinking we are better than our patients, or better than anyone else, for that matter. The only difference between us and them is this – our knowledge, our skills, what we’ve acquired these past four years. As we leave this place, may we have an unshaken confidence in our abilities but remain humble before the greatness of the human body and the art of medicine.

Now, go. Go conquer the world because it’s yours for the taking.

And as we go, may we stay true to ourselves, to those who believed in us, and most importantly, to our patients. May we expect from ourselves nothing less than everything we have to give – that includes taking care of ourselves so we can care for others.

Doctors of the Class of 2017, I am incredibly proud of everything you’ve done and will do. It has been my great pleasure and honor to serve as your class president these past four years. May God bless you with a fulfilling career and life. I love you all! Go get them! Thank you.