Omayra Marrero pays tribute to her classmates and their four years of work, study, accomplishments and enduring friendship.
Picture this: It’s a Wednesday night in March, towards the end of the spring semester. A group of 20 students has just enjoyed
making homemade spring rolls. Everyone contributed a little something – ingredients for the rolls, drinks or dessert. In this process you learn that one of the best runners in your class also makes a delicious banana pudding, and some of the guys make great homemade pizza. Now you are relaxing as you take turns playing “Rock Band.” While some performers are more adept at the guitar, drums and vocals than others, everyone is cheered on. At one point, one of the top students in the class belts out Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer,” while one of the quietest students impresses everyone with his ability to play the advanced guitar part.
This is how some of our 4th-year medical students relax. Others choose to go to the movies, head downtown, hit the trails for a run or spend quality time with their significant others. Regardless of the choice, this time has been well-earned, as this group is only a few weeks shy of graduation.
The College of Medicine Class of 2009 officially met as a group on Aug. 16, 2005. We congregated outside C1-15, a room that would quickly become a second home during that first year. I doubt anyone could have accurately predicted on that day the success this class would achieve, or the significant memories that would be created over the next four years. Some of these well-known memories include cheering on both our Gators football and basketball teams as they went on to win two national championships, watching the first season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” or watching the conclusion of the series “ER” with our classmates. These events are memorable and were enjoyed by others outside of our class, but during our four years we have experienced many significant moments that are unique to our group.
From day one, this graduating class brought an appreciation for and an understanding of the benefits of diversity. When we entered the College of Medicine, we ranged in age from 20 to 33 and were the first group to have more women than men. While 58 students in the class were already Gators, those of us from other schools quickly developed an appreciation for UF and became proud members of the Gator Nation.
Since that first day in August 2005, this group of students has expressed an interest in engaging in international health opportunities. We have since visited 10 countries and helped treat well over 10,000 patients in those locations. During our second year, we raised more than $6,000 for Doctors Without Borders. Many of us continue to pursue opportunities to serve abroad and hope that our residencies will allow for such endeavors.
We also have sought to work with our community and learn from those around us. Members of the class of 2009 have spent countless hours treating patients at the Equal Access Clinic, and some of us continue to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Our class developed and organized the first mission trip to New Orleans over spring break where we helped those most impacted by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. We coordinated the inaugural Trot for Tots 5K, an event in support of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation that raised more than $20,000, leading the way for the classes that follow us to passionately pursue and promote patient safety awareness within the College of Medicine curriculum and the Gainesville community.
Along with the successes already mentioned, the class of 2009 also established a new dynamic for a balanced life. This group developed and staged the first ever Grad Cup, where students from various professional colleges participated in athletic events to raise money for our medical mission trips. Numerous students participated in marathons, half-marathons and triathlons, and many continue to have a focus on maintaining an active lifestyle. We danced, sang and acted in our college’s yearly Talent Shows and again demonstrated an entertaining range of talent at the Annual Skit Night last week.
Each class from the College of Medicine brings its own tone and culture. I think and hope the class of 2009 will best be remembered for its commitment to serving others, its appreciation for diversity and its willingness and ability to adapt to change; and for its humor (just ask Dr. Robert Averbuch, our class adviser, about his turtleneck!)
Our graduation on May 16, marks the beginning of the next chapter in our lives.
Just like that first day in August 2005, no one can predict the success we will have or the challenges we will encounter. But if history serves as a basis for predicting the future, you know that the UF College of Medicine Class of 2009 will persevere and great things are inevitable.