An electric guitar solo kicked off the School of Medicine and Health Sciences ceremony on Sunday – in lieu of singing, Class of 2015 graduate Justin Palanci strummed his way through the national anthem.
During the ceremony, professors cheered for Palanci, Dean Jeffrey Akman honored a student who died in September and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy delivered an inspiring speech.
1. Honoring Navdeep Kang
Akman led the graduates and their guests in remembering Kang, who would have graduated with the Class of 2015. He was given a posthumous degree, which his father accepted. Murthy and student speaker Ashley Alker both spoke with admiration of Kang in their remarks.
In his fourth year of medical school at the time of his death, Kang wanted to specialize in the field of psychiatry.
2. From a culture of treatment to prevention
Murthy urged the new class of doctors to work with their communities to make health care more proactive. He advocated for a shift to healthier lifestyles to prevent diseases.
He also told graduates to address social disparities, like income, race and class, which can affect the public’s access to health care.
“Health equality is a civil rights issue,” Murthy said.
3. Remember your ‘anchors’
Murthy told the Class of 2015 to think of their family members and friends while in the medical profession.
When Murthy co-founded his first nonprofit, VISIONS, funders pulled their money from the organization soon before the HIV education program was set to launch in India. He said he relied on donations from his community to “cobble together” enough money to start the program anyway.
“Honor the people in your life who are your anchors,” Murthy said.
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