A new day for the class of 2011

Watch our video story of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2011 Commencement Ceremony.


They wrote the initials M.D. after their names for the very first time May 14, and for many, it was a long-awaited dream.

“I will wear the title with pride,” said Jamal Carter, M.D., one of the 126 members of the class of 2011 who received their medical degrees from the UF College of Medicine in its 51st commencement ceremony held in the morning at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. More than 90 faculty members and 1,400 family members and friends attended.

The ceremony, always rich in tradition, sentiment and joy, included stirring musical performances from students, inspiring words from faculty and college alumni and a benediction that represented four major religions.

“It was a spectacular ceremony, and we wish our new graduates great personal and professional success in the coming years,” said Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs and professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Commencement speaker Peter Small, M.D., a 1985 graduate of the College of Medicine, encouraged the graduates to use their skills as physicians to serve those people who are disadvantaged, both at home and throughout the world. Small is the senior program officer for TB at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Throughout his career, he has done extensive research on the genetic variability of TB and is largely responsible for the Gates Foundation’s efforts in reducing the global impact of the infectious disease.

He told the graduates that medicine can be a humbling profession, even for those at the top of their field.

“You are surrounded by people who are smarter, better prepared and more important than you,” said Small. “And if you are paying close enough attention, you will realize that more often than not, that smarter, prepared and important person is your patient.”

The time came when Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine told the graduates to move the tassels on their caps from the right to the left and congratulated them on becoming physicians.

Before walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, each graduate signed the Hippocratic Oath, adding that hard-earned M.D. after his or her name. After each graduate was announced and received his or her diploma, Dr. Tiffany Walker was commissioned as a captain in U.S. Air Force. Then graduates Hany Elmariah, Sarah Fuchs, Amelie Romelus and Puja Saxena concluded the ceremony with a unique benediction that represented the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Hindu faiths.

The celebration spilled outside onto the circular drive of the Phillips Center where families, friends and faculty congratulated the graduates.

“It is hard to explain how happy I am and how proud I am of my classmates,” said Keirsun Crockett, M.D., immediately following the ceremony. Crockett, who, with Jason Aaron Freed, M.D., received the John B. Gorrie Award for having the best all-around promise for becoming a physician of the highest quality, also performed a piano and drum accompaniment during the commencement.

“It really is a bitter-sweet day,” he said. “I’m going to miss everyone so much, but I’m so happy for us all.”

To view a recording of the ceremony, click here.