At the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth annual Class Day ceremony on June 7, faculty, staff, families, and students gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of 192 new graduates, including 64 from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI) at Geisel.
The customary celebration, held the day before Dartmouth College’s commencement, took place in the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center Courtyard. In addition to receiving the hoods denoting their degrees, the graduating students also received sage advice from Dartmouth faculty, alumni, their peers, and special guest speakers.
The Class Day address was delivered by Anne E. de Papp, MD, a 1988 graduate of Dartmouth’s medical school and the Global Director of Scientific Affairs for the Women’s Health and Endocrine Franchise at Merck & Co., Inc. She encouraged the graduates not to fear change.
“Embrace change in your life and your career and push yourself beyond your comfort zone,” said de Papp. “After all, this is what life is about, new experiences and new opportunities and as you progress through your future training you will realize that these opportunities are just beginning.”
Geisel dean Chip Souba, MD, ScD, MBA, advised graduates to commit to a future that was bigger than themselves.
“A future worth living into enriches the lives of others—your patients, your students, and your colleagues,” said Souba. “Because it is a future that is larger than yourself, it will be authentic and inspiring, granting you the tenacity, courage, and action to deal with the obstacles that will invariably show up along the way. So be bold. Be aspirational. Reach for the stars. You won’t regret it. You’re a Geisel School of Medicine graduate.”
Medical student speaker Paul Charlton—who received the Good Physician Award, which recognizes the graduating student who best exemplifies the personal and intangible qualities of the good physician—talked about how the diverse group of students that came together at Dartmouth four years ago have grown and are leaving as something more.
“Just as we brought our own diverse cultures into Dartmouth, we now are taking part of Dartmouth’s culture and spreading it,” said Charlton. “As we do so, we are Dartmouth’s ambassadors. We have the opportunity and the platform to be using the awareness we have gained over the past four years to make our residency programs, work cultures, and future communities better.”
Graduate student speaker Marie Onakomaiya said she was not prepared for the failures that all researchers inevitably encounter, but they taught her an important lesson, “Work hard and never give up, because perseverance pays off and will always leave you with a sense of accomplishment, no matter the final outcome.”
James A. Geiling, MD, Chief of Medical Services and Director of the Intensive Care Unit at the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of medicine at Geisel, was the TDI student speaker. He reminded his fellow students that “public health has a face, a name, and a family.”
"We should never forget that at the tip of this spear in these analyses are patients,” he continued. “Scared, ill, and vulnerable persons that are dependent on us and our health-care system to give them the compassionate care they need and deserve. Shame on us if we ever lose that focus, that azimuth in guiding our public health efforts."
Among award winners in the class of 2014, the Dean's Medal went to Jody C. Epstein and Sarah N. Robinson, who were selected by Geisel faculty as the students with the best overall record of achievement. Jeanine F. Amacher received the John W. Strohbehn Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research.
This year, Geisel graduated 192 students, including 90 MD, 50 MPH, 15 MS, and 37 PhD. The newly minted physicians will continue their training at top teaching hospitals around the country. Graduating master's and doctoral students will embark on the next stage of careers in academia, and in public or private sectors.