Temple University School of Medicine Celebrates 112th Commencement
An abundance of umbrellas, smiles and "selfies" were the order of the day at Temple University School of Medicine's 112th commencement, held on May 16 at Philadelphia's ornate Academy of Music. The rain outside did nothing to dampen the spirit inside, as nearly 200 students celebrated their transition to life's "real challenge," as one student described their future careers.
The morning began upstairs in a large holding room where the anxious graduates donned their black robes with dark green velvet trim. Gerald Sterling, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Education, offered last minute reminders to "turn off your cell phones" and "watch the green trim on your robes, it may bleed in the rain."
In the main hall, friends and family members filed in to take their seats. As the graduates began their march down the aisle, hundreds of cell phones sprung from pockets and began videotaping the robe-clad honorees. Pockets of applause broke out as loved ones were spotted, names were yelled out, and someone even sounded a celebratory air horn. The crowd quieted as the speakers began the program.
Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS, Dean of the School of Medicine and President and CEO of the Temple University Health System, addressed the graduates and the audience – reminiscing that "your white coat ceremony four years ago seems like it was just yesterday."
"Your generation will be asked to do more with less," he went on to say, "and you will define how we deliver care. Remember not just what you can offer medicine, but what medicine can offer you. The greatest gift this profession will give you is a handwritten thank you note from a patient."
When he reminded the gathered family members that the graduates "couldn't have done it without you," someone shouted out, 'No way!" to ripples of laughter.
The graduation keynote speaker was Eric Topol, MD, a cardiologist, geneticist and expert in wireless technologies who is the Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in California and the Chief Academic Officer for Scripps Health. He also holds the distinction of being named one of the nation's "Rock Stars in Science" by GQ magazine, a fact that sent a buzz through the audience.
Dr. Topol spoke to the graduates about the increased prevalence of technology not just in medicine but everyday life. Medicine has become a data science, he said, with many aspects of the profession in flux.
"It's a very exciting time … I wish I could trade places with you," he told the graduates. "Back in my day, 'digital' only referred to a rectal exam."
Class President Benjamin Wormser spoke on behalf of what he called the "magnificent, transcendent … and humble … class of 2014."
Later, yearbook editor Ashanda Powell announced the book's 2014 dedicatee, Alisa Peet, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the School of Medicine.
Finally, it was time for the degree-conferring part of the ceremony. This year's graduating class consisted of 160 students who earned the doctor of medicine degree; three who earned a dual medical degree and doctor of philosophy degree; 21, the doctor of philosophy degree; two a dual medical degree and master of arts degree; and 11 the master of science 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 new graduates.
As friends and classmates said their final goodbyes, they left the building one by one – dodging raindrops and making sure to keep their diplomas dry and away from the green velvet on their gowns.