Alumni Weekend rekindles memories for nearly 200 former students

Alumni interact with students, catch a glimpse of campus changes and reconnect with former classmates

Two doctors-in-training and one aspiring physician's assistant attended the Lunch & Learn student panel.

Two doctors-in-training and one aspiring physician’s assistant attended the Lunch & Learn student panel. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Jaima Woodiwiss, MD ’03, took time to share a favorite medical school memory during the Reunion Classes Celebration at the 2013 College of Medicine Alumni Weekend. That memory, however, was unexpected.

“The best memories were study weekends we had,” she said. “So many good friendships were made that way.”

Woodiwiss, a family practitioner in Riverview, Fla., celebrated her 10-year class reunion by bringing her family to visit her alma mater, including her 4-year-old daughter who enjoyed seeing where her mom went to school, she said.

“Figure out what you love to do, not what you think you’ll make money with,” Woodiwiss offered as advice for current medical students.

Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Photo by Jesse S. Jones

The weekend kicked off Sept. 19 with a dinner honoring members of the George Harrell Club at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

Current medical school students joined the mix for Lunch & Learn on Friday, which included a student panel available to answer for alumni questions.

Kenneth Heilman, MD, a professor of neurology and health psychology and director of the UF Memory and Cognitive Disorders Clinics, presented a lecture about research involving cognitive aging and memory loss at the McKnight Brain Institute.

The weekend’s centerpiece event came Friday night when nearly 200 College of Medicine alumni and their guests attended the Reunion Classes Celebration dinner at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The evening paid tribute to alumni from the classes of 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008.

Sunil Joshi, MD ’98, president of the UF Medical Alumni Association, told the attendees “truly distinct medical schools have vibrant alumni bases.”

“It’s not just special because of the balloons and table settings and how pretty it looks,” Joshi said, “but because we’re all together.”

Kathleen Smith, MD ’03, an anesthesiologist from Chapel Hill, N.C., grew up in Gainesville but found navigating the city to be a challenge after moving away.

Smith’s advice for medical students: “Enjoy it because it’s the best four years of your life.”

Michael L. Good, MD, dean of the College of Medicine, presented the weekend’s notable alumni lecturer, David Gross, MD ’73, with the Dean’s Award for Leadership during the celebration. Gross, a psychiatrist, lectured earlier in the day on the psychology of media coverage on mass casualties.

Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Photo by Jesse S. Jones

“Thank you for all you do and have done to give back and help us move forward,” Good said at the Reunion Classes Celebration dinner.

The visiting alumni showed their Gator pride by tailgating together prior to the UF versus Tennessee football game on Saturday afternoon.

“I still think of Gainesville as home,” said Marc Peden, MD ’03, during the alumni tailgate. Peden lived in Gainesville for 19 years through medical school, his residency, then as an assistant professor.

“Our weekend allows us to celebrate the graduates,” Good told returning alumni. “What makes a great medical school is the great faculty, and also great students. You are that legacy. You are the students who went out in the world. You are our ambassadors.”

View photos from the weekend’s events on the UF College of Medicine alumni Facebook page: