The ultimate gift

Chris Monsour, a first-year medical student at the UF College of Medicine, pours sand into a clear vase during the memorial service Dec. 6 to symbolize the donors’ contributions. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

“You were our first and most generous patient. You were the best and the most unforgettable teacher. Thank you.” 

The UF College of Medicine’s class of 2015 expressed their sincere gratitude and final farewells in a letter to the individuals who donated their bodies to science. The anatomy class presented the letter as part of a memorial ceremony held in the HPNP Auditorium Dec. 6. 

“It felt like a whirlwind this semester,” said Helen Zhang, a first-year medical student who earned her undergraduate degree at Duke University. “But to be able to honor the donors like this tonight is just incredible. All of us are going to remember this for the rest of our lives.” 

Students poured blue, green, and yellow sand into a clear vase to signify knowledge, gift and learning, symbolizing the donors’ contributions to their medical education. 

“In the past 14 weeks, we strived to honor the donors and their families by doing our best,” said class of 2015 President Michael Tudeen. “This celebration gives us all a moment to reflect on the magnitude of our donors’ gifts.” 

Victor Huang, a member of the class of 2015, performed a song during the ceremony in front of his class to express gratitude to the individuals who donated their bodies to science. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

Throughout the evening, musical performances and poetry readings by the future physicians reflected their deep appreciation for the donors’ generosity. 

Kyle Rarey, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy and cell biology at the UF College of Medicine, said the ceremony serves as a reminder to the students why compassion is crucial to their daily lives as future doctors. 

“I didn’t want the students to move onto the next semester without having a chance to say thank you,” he said. “At the College of Medicine, we teach the science of medicine, the art of medicine and the heart of medicine. Tonight’s event signifies the heart of medicine.”