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Congratulations, Class of 2017!

POSTED ON May 17, 2017

“Four minutes until you line up!”

The excitement level ticked up three more notches in the second-floor room at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. This is where more than 200 graduates were sequestered prior to the 115th Lewis Katz School of Medicine graduation ceremony, held this year on May 12.

Near the room’s entrance, Tyler Ranier and Matthew Trifan helped each other adjust their robes and debated which side of the cap the tassel should hang. Four years ago, the two walked into Temple’s Medical Education and Research Building not knowing a single person. Today, they would receive their diplomas, and part ways, as best friends.

“It feels a little like college again…a bit of pain in separation,” Trifan said. “But as you get older you mature and realize that life pulls you apart. I’m not too panicked about it. I think it’s neat that we’ll all be scattered across the country but we’ll still be friends.”

“I’m extremely excited for all of us,” Ranier added. “It was cool going through medical school and watching people develop interests in things they didn’t know they would come to love.” 

As the robe adjusting and selfie-taking continued at a frantic pace upstairs, the Kimmel Center’s main hall filled with hundreds of family members and friends. After many long years of education, this was the day they had awaited. The members of this year’s graduating class had prevailed over 10,000 applicants, earned undergraduate degrees from 107 different universities, and hailed from 18 states and 19 countries.

Back in the holding room, Gerald Sterling, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Education and master of ceremonies for graduation, offered some last-minute reminders (turn and face the audience after receiving your diplomas…turn off your cell phones!). A few more hugs and wardrobe adjustments and it was time for the last test of their academic careers – figuring out what line to get in for the procession.

As the graduates flowed down the stairs from the second floor and began their march into the Kimmel Center’s main hall, hundreds of cell phones sprung from pockets to photograph and video the honorees. Scattered applause and whoops broke out as family members spotted their loved ones. A few in the upper balconies waved their hands over their heads like they were signaling a rescue plane. The crowd quieted as the program began.  

Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS, The Lewis Katz Dean of the School and President and CEO of the Temple University Health System, addressed the graduates and encouraged them to develop their emotional intelligence.

“It is an investment for which the return is incalculable. I would hope that during your medical education you have developed one of the other key components of emotional intelligence, that of empathy, the ability to understand and respond according to the emotional reactions of others, truly what defines us as physicians.

“You have the knowledge, the expertise, and indeed a mastery that others do not have.  You have much to give to the world. Use it in an emotionally intelligent fashion.”

Following Dr. Kaiser’s address, the class of 2017 dedicated its yearbook to Alisa Peet, MD, Associate Dean of Clinical Education, who then delivered the ceremony’s keynote address. Dr. Peet offered the graduates tips on preparing for the big transition they were about to experience: stay focused on your goals, find meaning in your work, work as a team, connect with your patients, learn from your mistakes. She then assured them that, unlike the Oscars, “there is no mistake….you ARE graduating from medical school today.”  

Following a few words from Student Government President Michael Tzeng, it was time for the most anticipated part of the program – the conferring of degrees.

This year’s graduating class consisted of 197 students who earned the doctor of medicine degree; 15 who earned the doctor of philosophy degree; 3 who earned a dual medical degree and doctor of philosophy degree; 11, a dual medical degree and master of art’s degree; 5, the master of science degree; and 1, the master of art’s degree.  

In the Temple tradition, family members who also graduated from the School of Medicine or who serve on the faculty joined their graduating loved ones on stage when they received their diploma. The morning’s ceremony concluded with the reciting of the Hippocratic Oath and then the crowd poured out into the lobby for hugs and high-fives with the beaming new graduates.

Soon, Ranier and Trifan would go their separate ways: she to Boston Children’s Hospital for a pediatric residency, he to Philadelphia’s Jefferson University Hospital for emergency medicine. The diplomas in their hands signified their official transition from medical school classmates to professional colleagues. The strong friendship they had developed over the last four years would continue uninterrupted…no diploma required.