The University of Florida College of Medicine’s 55th commencement ceremony was overflowing with joy and enthusiasm, as well as sage advice for the 128 men and women who received their medical degrees Saturday morning.
“Believe in your own potential and continue to do all that you can to maximize it,” said Dean Michael L. Good, M.D.
About 1,600 family members and friends, along with faculty and staff, attended the May 16 ceremony at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
“Today is a huge day. It culminates the hard work we’ve put in over the past four years and beyond,” said Stephen Suah, M.D., who will begin his residency next month in dermatology at Howard University. “We’ve been waiting for this moment our whole lives, and it means a lot for us all to succeed and get here together as a family.”
The class of 2015 includes 18 members who graduated with honors for research, 13 with honors for academic excellence and one who gradated with honors for special achievement: Ross Scott Zeitlin. Lauren Paige Black, Jennifer Michelle Jeske Kidd and Christian Jeannot earned combined degrees, each with a master’s in public health.
Five members of the class were commissioned as medical corps officers, including Shannon Elizabeth Brockman, M.D.; Matthew James Brown, M.D.; Kyle Jeanne Dalton Gray, M.D. and Morgan Michael McGuire, M.D., all U.S. Navy lieutenants; and Christopher William Maxwell Jr., M.D., a U.S. Air Force captain.
Commencement speaker Kevin Soden, M.D., M.P.H., a 1974 UF College of Medicine graduate, told the graduating physicians that one thing he’s learned as an ER physician and a medical journalist is that everyone has a story.
“Find that story in your patients,” he said.
Soden also advised the new doctors to use humor to help cope with stress, pain and conflict.
“Since ancient times, humor has been at the heart of the healing process,” he said as he slipped on Groucho Marx nose-and-mustache glasses. “Laughter really is the best form of medicine.”
The new physicians will soon begin residencies around the country, with internal medicine and pediatrics being the most popular specialties for this year’s graduating class. Thirty two percent of those graduating will stay in Florida, and 22 percent will complete their residency training at UF in Gainesville.
“Basically, our careers start today, which is very exciting,” said Melinda Exume, M.D., who will stay at UF for an ophthalmology residency.
Relive the moment: