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 10 days 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.
View the graduation video: http://lectures.med.fsu.edu/tcs/#page:recordingList&pageNumber:1&id:2295F9E0-06E3-4F40-85CE-A3B1B4AB349D.