‘Given a gift’
The UF College of Medicine class of 2019 takes first steps as new physicians
May 20, 2019—As Nazokat Usmanova, M.D. ’19, bows her head to receive the ceremonial hood marking her official status as a physician, her eyes light up as an ample smile spreads across her face. The moment is bittersweet, though. The commencement ceremony means she is one step closer to beginning the OB-GYN residency she’s been dreaming about for the last two decades, but it also means she will soon part ways with some of her classmates with whom she’s built the strongest bonds of her lifetime.
“Because medical school is so hard and the curriculum is so intense, only your classmates know exactly how you’re feeling in each moment. We’re stressed at the same time; we’re excited at the same time,” Usmanova said. “We understand each other. At our core, our similar goals and interests pull us together. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without my friends here.”
The 60th annual UF College of Medicine commencement ceremony, held May 18 at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, proved one of the final times the 129 members of the class of 2019 would gather in the same place at the same time. It was a time for celebration, remembrance of shared memories and hope for the future.
UF College of Medicine Interim Dean Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D., M.P.H., presided over the ceremony and offered the graduates some insight into the significance of the day’s events.
“You’re now turning a page in life filled with the most sacred responsibility of caring for others and pushing the envelope in discovery and education that will impact thousands of lives over your career, a journey of opportunity and possibilities that will surely lead to a life of fulfillment,” Tyndall said. “You’ve been given a gift, a gift to practice medicine and to impact human health, a gift that can be used to rise above today’s discourse of indignity, prejudice, hate and violence and instead appeal to a common purpose of health and well-being, justice and civility, equity and hope.”
The keynote address was given by David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., immediate past president of UF Health and former senior vice president for health affairs. Guzick shared seven graduating students’ personal histories with medicine in their own words, highlighting the talent, diversity and breadth of experience that make up the class of 2019.
“The class of 2019 are multi-talented individuals. They’re internally driven to achieve their goals through determination and will,” Guzick said. “The future of medicine is indeed in good hands.”
In their student address, 2019 Student Hippocratic Award recipients Leora Lieberman and Laura Buchanan shared their final hopes for their classmates before they scatter across the country to begin the next chapter of their careers.
“As with any beautiful story, where there’s a first, there’s a last. As we reach the end, I hope that we leave behind pride in place of humility and that we let our own hardships not turn to cynicism but rather let our struggles inform our compassionate care for patients,” Lieberman said. “I hope we never underestimate the far-reaching, uplifting impact of simple kindness toward each other and those we care for.”
After each of the graduates received their hoods and diplomas and read aloud the Hippocratic Oath, they were greeted outside of the Phillips Center by their loved ones with bouquets, hugs and well wishes. Usmanova, who will soon begin a residency at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, posed for photos in the sunshine with her family and classmates.
“I can’t think of a better place to receive my education than the UF College of Medicine,” Usmanova said. “I have a lot to learn still in my residency, but I feel prepared, capable and confident that things have been taught to me well here.”