The sound of bagpipes led graduates of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences into Lisner Auditorium Saturday afternoon to receive their diplomas at the school’s commencement celebration.
Following a welcome from SMHS Dean Jeffrey Akman and the presentation of academic and leadership awards, the graduates recited the school’s pledge to practice medicine with integrity and compassion.
Speakers at the ceremony told graduates that they should live by a set of common values, embrace cooperation and always be on the lookout for new opportunities.
Here are some highlights form the ceremony:
1. Values in healthcare
Akman opened the ceremony by congratulating the graduates on their hard work, passion and spirit of dedication.
He acknowledged the changing state of healthcare in the United States, but said there is “one thing that will not change and that is the values that form the foundation of the health profession.”
He told the Class of 2017 that in an uncertain health care field, “ethics, morality, moral behavior, integrity, principles and honesty matter.”
“These are the values in our oaths and in our lives that matter more than anything,” he told the graduates.
2. Looking for opportunity
Student speaker Majorie Brown, who graduated with a master’s degree in health sciences, recognized her mother, who was celebrating her 86th birthday Saturday, drawing applause from the audience.
She said during the bitter political battle over the future of the U.S. healthcare system, graduates from the medical school represented “the very essence of what our great nation needs.”
“We cannot allow these uncertainties to hinder our progress in the delivery of healthcare services that we will continue to provide,” she said.
Brown urged graduates to be “change agents,” using their medical degrees to better the world. She quoted advertiser and author Joseph Sugarman who wrote that the “greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.”
“Opportunity for changes can be found anywhere – from conducting research in a lab to sitting with a couple and having a conversation about healthcare in an airport,” she said.
3. Embracing cooperation
After diplomas were presented, Reamer Bushardt, the senior associate dean for health sciences, closed the ceremony by thanking the graduates for completing the program and said because they will now join about 280,000 other GW alumni, “wherever your career and your life takes you, you’ll never be alone.”
Bushardt encouraged graduates to embrace collaboration in their careers rather than try to go it alone. He said working together was the best way to bring about positive change.
“It gives me extraordinary hope to see you ready to charge on the world and to impart with it your brand of character driven leadership that we so desperately need today,” he said. “I think you are going to change the course of history.”
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