Harvard Medical School — Class Day 2017


You may all be seated. Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of the
graduating class of 2017, welcome to the Harvard
Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Class Day Ceremony. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon to Dean Daley,
Dean Donoff, Dean Hundert, Dean Saldana, Dr. Karchmer, our
fellow students, and to you, all of our family and friends
who have come from far and wide to be with us on this day
and to all of our friends who are watching online,
thank you for all that you have done
to help us get here. [APPLAUSE] My name is Grace Chao. And together with Aaron
Cohen and Patrick Vaughn we have the great pleasure
of serving as this year’s graduation co-moderators. [APPLAUSE] This afternoon we will
celebrate the accomplishments of 166 graduating medical
students and 35 graduating dental students. And to list all of
their accomplishments would take more than
one graduation ceremony, but just to list a few,
we’ve had classmates publish groundbreaking
research in the world’s leading journals, we’ve had friends
work all over the United States and around the world
on health disparities, we’ve had people shape health
policy through new ideas and advocacy to obtaining
multiple degrees in many fields and gracing the stage
as Miss Massachusetts and to writing novels. We’ve had people in our
class do all sorts of things. And I’m honored to call
you all my classmates. And now I’ll pass
it on to Aaron. Thank you, Grace. And thank you to everyone who
could be here today braving the elements. Yesterday, when we
had our rehearsal, Dean Hundert came up to Grace
and I and Patrick told us as co-moderators,
your main job is to set a fun tone,
a party atmosphere. [APPLAUSE] So in the spirit of those words
and in the spirit of 2017, I think it’s time for us to try
to make graduation great again. [LAUGHTER] To accomplish that, I figured
it would be a good start to look back on some
of my finest memories here at HMS, mostly
social memories. In roughly chronological
order, I can start. Introduction to the Profession,
colloquially known as ITP– a little bit of
work, a lot of play. Patient-Doctor 1, where
sometimes all we knew to say was that must be hard for you. Daily work outs
in the Vandy Gym– no windows, plenty of
questionable music choices. Pickup basketball games
on the Vandy court– broken bones,
wounded friendships, learning that our
bodies were not what they were in their teens. The annual first-year ski trip– what happened to the Commodore
Inn stays at the Commodore Inn. Society Olympics–
where for one day we were allowed
to be competitive and learned why our
curriculum is pass/fail. The second year show,
which no longer exists– where cardiology took
a backseat to theater. Thank you, Dr. Saldana. Match day– where the
culmination of four years was boiled down to a single
line of 12-point font and, of course, now
the end of our $60,000 fourth-year vacation. [LAUGHTER] But on a more serious note,
it’s been the blessing to embark on this journey with
all the wonderful people here today. And thanks to all the
friends and families for allowing us to do this. These memories are just a few. And I’m sure each of you have
your own special memories that you remember
from medical school and will look back upon fondly. In between these
emotional highs, we all can remember
feeling the lows, feeling exhausted, uninspired,
perhaps even burnt out. It’s happened before and it
will, of course, happen again. In those times though, I hope
you reflect back and remember the emotional highs that will
also, of course, happen again. It is now my pleasure to
introduce Patrick Vaughn. Hi, everybody. My name is Patrick Vaughn
and it is an absolute honor– I can’t even tell you how much– to be serving as
today’s co-moderator for the Harvard School
of Dental Medicine. Welcome to all of our
family and friends. And I would also like to
acknowledge our loved ones who, for whatever reason, cannot
be here with us today. Thank you for all
that you have done. Today is a monumental
day that many of us have been dreaming
of for years– the day we become doctors. I always thought
that by today, I would feel more like
an adult, that I would have had everything figured
out and would have already made my mark on the world. In reality, I don’t
really feel that much different than the boy who
fell asleep on the sidewalk outside or the high schooler
who spelt his name wrong on ACT, which is a true story. Yet, here I stand, a very
different person from then. What I have learned from
this is that progress takes time and growth happens
so slowly that sometimes you don’t even notice it. Recall this as you move
through your careers from encouraging your patients
through the small steps towards well-being
or as you spend years studying and researching
lifesaving technology. Over the past four years, I have
seen immense growth in maturity from all of you. And I know you’re all going
to do incredible things. And like the banner behind
me says Gordon Hall, the world is waiting, and we all
cannot wait to see what you all will do. In many ways, today
serves as a culmination of our educational careers. Though we will no longer serve
the official title as student, thankfully, I urge you all
to remain lifelong learners. Remember that we still have
so much knowledge to acquire and that we can learn something
from every single person that we meet. We have already learned so
much from so many people. And I would now like to
thank a couple of people– to our parents who taught
us to stand on our own, to our professors and our
mentors who taught us to become professionals, to our
patients who taught us how to treat people,
and to our classmates who taught us to believe in
ourselves and kept us sane, to each and every
one of you I want to say thank you on behalf
of the class of 2017. Let’s give a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] It is now my distinct
honor and privilege to introduce
someone I personally have learned a lot from,
our first speaker of today, Sara Tejani. Sara grew up in Houston,
Texas and subsequently studied at the University of
Southern California where she majored in both
the biological sciences and Spanish. At HSDM, Sara has pursued
a number of passions, including clinical research
on oral candidiasis, as well as academic
research on the most effective educational tools. Sara is well known by our
class as a strong speaker for patient advocacy. And perhaps her most
meaningful contribution has been her
compassion and kindness that she has extended to each
patient and to each of us as her classmate. Sara will continue her
training as a general practice resident at the Minneapolis
Veterans Administration. She is a very,
very good speaker, so you’re all in for a treat. Her remarks are cleverly
titled “the class of 2017– an amalgam of talent.” Please join me in welcoming
my good friend and classmate, Dr. Sara Tejani. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Patrick. Distinguished faculty, alumni,
peers, family, and friends, thank you all so much
for supporting us on this special
day in our lives– the day that we
officially become doctors. To our faculty and mentors,
your dedication and efforts brought us to this moment
in our professional careers. And thank you to our family and
friends for your encouragement throughout this journey. We could not have reached
this point without you all. Now I’d like to begin by taking
us back to our first moments here. Many of us described the
feeling of imposter syndrome. How had we obtained admission
to arguably the greatest university on earth? I remember feeling small
in the grand presence of Harvard University. For me, as a five-foot,
immigrant, scarf-donning Muslim woman, I felt inspired, but
also mildly overwhelmed. Over these past four
years after witnessing all that we have achieved
together, those feelings have transformed. Some of the co-moderators have
mentioned these accomplishments are already, but in our
cohort of 35 students, we have a Fulbright
Scholar, a runner up for Miss America,
military members, first-generation Americans,
first-generation doctors, entrepreneurs,
artists, athletes. And specifically during
our time in dental school, we have much to celebrate. We engaged in interesting,
informative research projects that led to numerous
publications and sparked important dialogues
and our dental community. We gave back in public
health efforts, both locally and globally, to ensure health
provisions for all people. We treated hundreds of
underserved patients at our teaching practice. We excelled in leadership
roles in organized dentistry, lobbying our politicians
in Massachusetts and on Capitol Hill. And, yes, our work
was commended when we marched to our top choices
in residency programs. Now nobody said the dental
school would be easy. And that’s certainly
not the adjective I’d use to describe it. Managing demanding
patients, refining our advanced fine motor skills,
and achieving perfection however our professor expected– none of that came naturally. But these challenges
brought us closer together as we built relationships
that we could count on. In fact, I think that some
of the most notable lessons that we learned came
not in the classroom, but in these very
moments with each other. For example, I learned
about collaboration when my classmates shared
resources so that we could all succeed on our national boards. I learned about
perseverance when my peers remarkably completed
coursework despite injuries, painful medical diagnoses, and
the unimaginable loss of loved ones. I learned about
solidarity when our dean hosted a memorable
event to show support for immigrants in a
polarizing political climate. I learned about empathy
when we held a special vigil to honor victims of
violence, including three students
who were hatefully murdered in North Carolina. And on a lighter note, I
learned about happiness when my classmates provided
much needed comic relief in the form of inside jokes and
witty remarks over our GroupMe. I learned about trust when we
practiced our first anesthesia injections using each
other as guinea pigs and then we agreed to become
each other’s patients. And I learned about
love when my classmates dated and subsequently
proposed to each other. I appreciate our faculty
for teaching us dentistry, but I admire my classmates
for illuminating other valuable lessons. Now traditionally
graduation speeches end with some words of wisdom. And I have to say,
I feel somewhat underqualified to impart
wisdom on a group that’s taught me so much. But what I might
say is that I hope that we continue to stay
motivated and energized to effect the change
required in our profession, whether that be through
research, academia, policy, innovation, whatever
our calling might be. For me personally, I
hope that these efforts include diversifying our field. One can’t help but notice
the similar appearance of our founding fathers
when perusing the portraits that dawn on our
institution’s walls. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary
of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. I know that we’ve come far– case in point– but I
hope that the next time that I return to the school
that I love, I’ll see our walls peppered with people from
a variety of backgrounds. I’ve counted down the days to
graduation for a while now. But this past week
when my countdown reached single digits,
I felt a sadness as I realized that the
35 of us now split up. But as we disperse, I
know that we will greatly improve oral health
outcomes for our communities and that demands celebration. We mustn’t underestimate
the power that we have. In his hallmark
work Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes wrote– and this was in the 1600s– “every tooth in a man’s head is
more valuable than a diamond.” Before we return
to mining diamonds, however, I hope
we will rest today to commemorate all of
our achievements so far. Congratulations, we made it. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Sara, for
those wonderful words. Our next speaker
Aaron Schwartz is graduating after
an extended stay here at Harvard,
having completed a PhD in health policy as part
of the Harvard MD-PhD Program. A health economist, Aaron
focuses his research on measuring health
care quality and the use of unnecessary
health care services. I’ve also personally
had the great honor of knowing Aaron both as one of
the best teaching fellows here at Harvard Medical School when
he helped to teach our health policy course and then
later as a co-student on the wards at the Brigham
and Women’s Hospital. He is a graduate of Swarthmore
College, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,
soon Harvard Medical School, and will be completing his
internal medicine primary care residency at Brigham
and Women’s Hospital. Please join me in welcoming
Aaron to the stage. [APPLAUSE] It’s taken me eight
years to get used to the idea of graduating from
the Harvard Medical School. Maybe it’s all the
marble and the columns, the majesty of this quad– and on most other days
it is quite majestic. The majesty of this
quad is a reminder of what we know
from our experiences here, that practicing medicine
is a sacred privilege. As students, when we
stepped into the hospital, even when it was 5:00 AM and
we desperately needed coffee, we could sense a
feeling, like we were passing through
an invisible curtain into hallowed halls. We’ve had many transcendent
experiences here– learning in the anatomy lab,
opening in abdomen in surgery, delivering a baby, sitting and
talking with a dying patient about the end of life. So let’s start with gratitude. First, to the people who got us
to and through medical school, those families and friends,
early teachers and mentors, coaches, neighbors–
it’s a long list– you taught us from the
beginning, not just to read, but to love reading
and, by extension, to love truth and its pursuit. You gave us knowledge
and, more importantly, the sense that knowledge
matters and, even more importantly, the
understanding that knowledge isn’t quite enough. You taught us to
speak and to listen, to really listen, to care and
to take care and to take risks and to take ourselves seriously,
but not too seriously, to seek comfort and to give it, to
apologize and to mean it, to think that we matter
enough to pursue our goals. We have only sailed here
because you built our ships, you calibrated our
compass, and you were our port in the storms. So to the people here who
made us who we are, please know this– you formed the bedrock of
who we will be as doctors. All the things we learned in
medical school, every fact in our textbook, all of
the pages in our library, these are just details
compared to your lessons. And we are so grateful. And here at Harvard we
have had some fantastic support from professors and
residents who taught us, to the cafeteria
workers who served us, to the deans and administrators
running the place, many people were better at their
jobs than they needed to be. Classmates befriended
us, patients gave us the opportunity to
learn from their suffering, to poke and to percuss
them, to experience some of the worst and best
moments of their lives, all these people share in
our success here today. And we are so lucky
to be so lucky. Often, we have been
the right people in the right place at the right
time with many opportunities that others have lacked. Had the dice rolled
another way, this tent might be filled with
a very different set of equally talented graduates. As we move forward, how do
we pursue a life in medicine that honors these people
and these experiences? Here is my hope– substance over signaling. To explain what I mean, I
need to talk about economics, which my wife
tells me to do when she is having trouble sleeping. [LAUGHTER] Don’t worry, I will be brief. The economist Michael
Spence once had any insight. He realized that sometimes
we pursue education to showcase our talents rather
than to improve our skills. Acing exams, getting
degrees, building a nice CV, these things take
talent and they will make you look good,
even if you learned nothing useful from the process. This was Spence’s Signaling
Model of Education, and it won him a Nobel Prize. His powerful idea has
made me question– what aspects of my own
education are skill building and which are signaling? We’ve learned many
skills on our way here, but we’ve also done
a lot of signaling. Once we took organic chemistry. More recently, for our
standardized tests, we spent countless
hours memorizing facts that are accessible
in seconds on our phones. I hope that our future
will be a bit different. A resident once told me
that the letters MD actually stand for Makes Decisions. As MDs in residency
and beyond, we will make countless
decisions about how to spend our time and our energy. Should I check in on that
scared patient again? Should I do a research project? Should I challenge an attending
about that treatment decision? Some of these tasks will
be about the real substance of doctoring– helping patients and learning
to become great physicians. Some will be about looking good. I hope that we will
have the wisdom to see the difference and the
courage to choose substance. Yes, there will always be
that next professional goal and plenty of hoops to
jump through to get there, but whatever our mission is,
let’s not delay it too long. If we focus too much on
climbing the medical hierarchy, we might forget what
exactly we wanted to do when we attained the
status and autonomy that we were seeking. We can start making
the changes that we want to see in medicine
and in ourselves today. As Harvard graduates,
we are not underdogs. We can afford to
look bad sometimes and to focus our efforts
on what really matters. So let’s use our Harvard
diplomas as a safety net, a suit of armor, something
that allows us to be bold, take risks, and blaze a trail. How we transform our success
into a life in medicine is up to us. Today, we’ve earned our degrees. Tomorrow, let’s
keep earning them. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Aaron. It is now my
pleasure to introduce our second medical school
speaker today, Colleen Farrell. Colleen Farrell of
Saratoga Springs, New York, is a graduate of
Williams College, where she studied women’s and
gender studies and Spanish. While at HMS, she has
served for three years on the student leadership
committee of the Center for Primary Care. As a writer and
violinist, she has also been active in the HMS Arts
and Humanities Initiative. She’ll pursue residency
in internal medicine at New York University Medical
Center and Bellevue Hospital, with the aim of becoming
a primary care physician and advocate for
underserved patients. The title of her talk is “seeing
our own patients’ vulnerability in our own.” Please join me in
welcoming Colleen Farrell. [APPLAUSE] Distinguished faculty,
dedicated staff, and, most importantly, loving
parents and family members, thank you for all you’ve done
to support us and transform us into doctors. Harvard Medical School Class
of 2017, congratulations. It is an enormous honor
to address you all today. When I was a third-year
medical student, I scrubbed in on the surgery
of a woman with ovarian cancer. The purpose of the surgery was
to see whether her cancer had spread to other organs. The surgeon instructed me to put
my hand on the patient’s liver. As I ran my gloved
hand over it, I felt hard knobs of cancer
press against my fingertips. I realized that after
the anesthesia wore off, the surgeon would have to tell
her patient that the cancer had metastasized. I, however, wasn’t there
for that conversation. As medical students,
we periodically get pulled out of the hospitals
for PowerPoint presentations, group discussions, and
role play scenarios. On the day of this
surgery, it just so happened that I had to
participate in a medical school exercise called
breaking bad news. Along with each
of my classmates, I was given a pretend
patient’s medical history– a middle-aged woman with
back pain that turned out to be due to metastatic cancer. In a mock exam room, I sat
across from an actor pretending to be this patient and
told her the diagnosis. It was purely a coincidence
that the breaking bad news exercise coincided
with the operation I observed that morning. But the fact that my attending
surgeon was communicating such a serious diagnosis with
her real patient as I play acted the same
scenario with an actor reminded me that
medical school has been a dress rehearsal for
the real responsibility of medicine. When I consider that
responsibility, whether it be performing surgery or telling
someone life-altering news, I am struck by the
vulnerability of patients. The word vulnerability comes
from the Latin root “vulnus,” meaning “wound.” To be vulnerable means being
capable of being wounded. Our patients come to us so
that we may heal their wounds. But in seeking care,
they open themselves to being wounded anew, both
physically and emotionally. Being a patient
almost always entails physical pain, uncertainty,
and a loss of control. Patients let us
into their stories before they can know if we
will respond with compassion and understanding or if we
will brush them off or make them feel ashamed. By saying loud, this hurts
and I don’t know what to do, patients open the possibility
of sustaining further wounds. But yet, it is only through
telling their stories and putting trust in others
that they may be healed. In this way, vulnerability is
a prerequisite for healing. When we started medical
school, our faculty told us our best teachers
would be our patients. I think we have a lot to
learn from our patients about the power
of vulnerability. Though no one says it
directly, medical culture implies that vulnerability is
for patients, not for doctors or medical students. It wasn’t until I
became a patient myself that I learned to embrace
my own vulnerability. After my third year
of medical school, I was diagnosed with depression. Though research published by
our own classmates and faculty shows that greater than one
in four medical students have the symptoms of
depression, the experience itself can be
painfully isolating. In my new role as a
patient, I told my story. I said out loud, this hurts
and I don’t know what to do. It was scary, just like
it’s a little scary telling you this story today. But I learned that
my vulnerability was rich, fertile soil for
my own healing and growth, for forging more
meaningful relationships, and for gaining a deeper
understanding of my patients. The next stage of our training
will be incredibly exciting. We will step out of this
extended dress rehearsal and take on the responsibility
of caring for patients. In addition to providing
excellent care to our patients, many of us will make
important contributions to research, health
policy, global health, and social justice. But at the risk of being a
downer on graduation day, we will also all
face challenges. There will be the
daily struggles of sleep deprivation and feeling
like we just don’t know enough. Many of us will deal with
family illness, personal loss, and, yes, depression. We may wonder if we’re cut out
for the heavy responsibility of medicine. In these moments, I hope we
will embrace our vulnerability and share whatever
is troubling us with each other, our
friends, and our families. The alternatives–
silence and isolation– might feel safer in the
moment, but in the long run, keep us from growing
into our best selves. Just as importantly, I hope
when our colleagues and students open up to us about
their struggles, that we recognize their
vulnerability for what it is, not weakness but courage. I really believe that when
we take care of ourselves and each other in this way we
are so much better equipped to care for our patients. Our patients will come
to us with challenges far beyond what many of
us will ever experience. Our patients will be wounded
not just by disease, but also by trauma and neglect,
marginalization, and inequality. As physicians, we will
be in a unique position to see our patients’
vulnerability and help transform
it into healing. To do that well, we need to see
that we are not fundamentally different from our patients. We are all human and,
therefore, all vulnerable and that is a powerful,
beautiful thing. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Colleen. And how about a big
round of applause for all of our students speakers? [APPLAUSE] At this time, I’d
like to take a moment to recognize a lot
of the students who help play a role in
planning a lot of the events around graduation. It’s a busy time
for many planning the next stage of their
lives, traveling, moving, but a lot of people
really stepped up to help things along. Just to name a few Sarah
Deliska, Emily Gross, Morgan Hennessy, Erika Kimely,
Snowy Lu, Nicola Perlman, Rachael Rosales, Ramkumar
Venkateswaran, Lucy Woo, and Aaron Yo. [APPLAUSE] Another big thanks to Debbie
Metcalfe, senior director of Alumni Relations,
and her team for all the hard
work and efforts in supporting the
graduating class. [APPLAUSE] This day would not have
happened without all the support of Dean Fidencio Saldana,
Denise Brown, and all the staff in the Office of
Student Affairs. [APPLAUSE] A very special shout out to
Danya Allen who, as some of you do not know, but she is the new
assistant director of student affairs and took over Carla
Fujimoto who held that post for 21 years, I believe. And Danya was thrown right
into this role in March and has done an admirable
and graceful job. So let’s give a big round
of applause for Danya. [APPLAUSE] I’ll now hand the mike
over to Patrick Vaughn who will do the faculty
awards for the dental school. Thank you, Aaron. If I could ask our three
award winners to please come join me on this
side of the stage. Each year, the
graduating students from the Harvard School
of Dental Medicine nominate and select two faculty
members and one staff member to receive the Outstanding
Faculty and Outstanding Staff Awards. I am truly honored to
present these next three awards which were
chosen on behalf of my 35 wonderful classmates. Come on up. [APPLAUSE] So our first Outstanding
Faculty Award goes to Dr. Nalton Ferraro. You can come on a little
closer to me, too. [LAUGHTER] Dr. Ferraro is the director
of the predoctoral oral and maxillofacial
surgery program. Since joining the
faculty in our third, year Dr. Ferraro has completely
reinvigorated the oral surgery department here. With his characteristic laugh
and energetic cheerfulness, which you can see right now,
he has transformed our OR from a dark, cold,
sterile environment to a warm, respectful,
sterile environment. He instills in his students
a sense of pride for our work and a drive to perfect
our surgical skills. He not only teaches us
how to treat our patients, he teaches us how
to treat people. Dr. Ferraro is one
of the best things to happen to us during
our time at HSDM and for him we are
extremely grateful. He’s truly one of a kind. Please join me in contract
congratulating Dr. Ferraro. [APPLAUSE] Our second Outstanding
Faculty Award goes to Dr. Aram Kim, who can
also come closer to me now. Dr. Aram Kim is the true
embodiment of excellence. Known for her warm
approachability and her gentle humor, Dr. Kim
has naturally turned her office into one of the most popular
destinations for many students at HSDM. Regardless of her time
or how busy she is, Dr. Kim never rushes a
student and is always fully present to listen and
guide from her infamous 3:00 AM emails to the plethora
of colorful sticky notes decorating her office. It is truly an
understatement to say that Dr. Kim has been an
integral part of our class’ success. Her kindness, her patience,
and her relentless faith in our success,
for all of these we are endlessly grateful
to you, Dr. Kim, for believing in us
every step of the way. Thank you so much, Dr. Kim. [APPLAUSE] Come on over, Mohamed. This year’s Outstanding Staff
Award goes to Mohamed Alaeddin. It is a completely shared
sentiment by many in our class that we would not have survived
our third and our fourth year of dental school
without Mohamed. The dedication he has to his
students is unparalleled, and it shows on a daily basis. We all felt like no matter
what situation we were in, Mohamed was always there for us. He is known for his
patience, his skill, and his warm approachability. The class of 2017 cannot
thank Mohamed enough for his undeniable dedication to our
development in both the lab and our improvement
overall as people. Congratulations, Mohamed. [APPLAUSE] So next we’ll have Grace come up
to introduce our medical award winners. Congratulations again to
the HSDM award winners. For our faculty
awards, first, we would like to recognize
the residents, those young physicians
in training who our class has chosen to honor
for their exceptional teaching skills. Their names are listed near
the end of the Class Day book. To manage a full patient
panel, maintain an enthusiasm for own education, and all the
while leave indelible marks on medical students, our
residents are quite amazing and they are our heroes. Let’s give them all
a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] This year we will honor one
particularly outstanding resident. We’ve invited her to come
Dr. Oluwatosin Onibokun If you could please come
up when I call your name. She has been voted by
our class to receive the Outstanding Resident Award. She’s a senior resident at
the MGH/BWH combined OB/Gyn program. Lovingly known as Tosin
by many, she is widely considered a favorite. And she is known for her
incredible teaching ability, even in the most stressful
clinical situations. Dr. Onibokun has
inspired many students to take an interest in
OB/Gyn and also inspired many to pursue a
career in OB/Gyn. So thank you and
congratulations to you again. [APPLAUSE] And we will continue to
present Harvard Medical School Class of 2017 faculty awards. As soon as we announce your
name, please come to the stage. Among a distinguished
and committed faculty, these men and women
have all stood out as uniquely passionate
and effective educators, embodying the best of what
medical education can offer. First, we’d like to
honor Dr. Helen Shields. Dr. Shields today is
receiving the award– yes, we can clap for her first. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Shields today is
receiving the award for excellence in
preclinical instruction at Harvard Medical School. She is a gastroenterologist
and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She served as the course
director for the second year gastroenterology course,
which is a course that universally receives
outstanding reviews– and personally was my
favorite, thank you. She also serves as an associate
master in the Holmes Society. Dr. Shields is one of the
most passionate, innovative, and caring clinicians
and educators here that we have had the good
fortune to learn from. Congratulations to
you, Dr. Shields. [APPLAUSE] And next we will honor
Dr. Carey York-Best. Dr. York-Best today is
receiving– oh, sorry, I keep forgetting this part. [APPLAUSE] Dr. York-Best is receiving
the award for excellence in clinical instruction at MGH. She is an assistant
professor of OB/Gyn and reproductive biology. She also serves as the
associated clerkship director for the OB/Gyn clerkship
over at the MGH. She has been lauded
by many students for her remarkable teaching
ability and clinical skills. Congratulations to you. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Katy O’Donnell– [APPLAUSE] Dr. O’Donnell is receiving
the Award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction
at Children’s Hospital. Dr. O’Donnell serves as the
associate clinical chief of the Children’s Hospital
inpatient services and is the associate clerkship
director for the third year pediatrics clerkship. She stands out for
her incredible ability to distill very complex
problems into simple steps so that we as medical students
can learn more efficiently and more and more clearly. She also has the
foresight and passion to ensure that her students
are always successful, no matter where they begin. Thank you very
much, Dr. O’Donnell. Congratulations to you. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Beverly Woo– [APPLAUSE] Dr. Woo today is receiving the
Leonard Tow Humanism Award. Dr. Woo is a general internist
and associate director and adviser of the
Peabody Society. Dr. Woo has long been an
inspiration to the students here at HMS. She’s known by many of us as
the director of Patient-Doctor 1 and is universally lauded for
her compassion and dedication to both her patients
and students. Congratulations to you, Dr. Woo. [APPLAUSE] And Dr. Woo, if you could
stay on the stage with us. Our next awardee
is Dr. Nora Osman. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Osman is receiving
the Award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction at
Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Osman is an assistant
professor of medicine and a primary care physician
at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And in addition to
her patient care role, she also directs the
outpatient component of the medicine clerkship. Students constantly
praise Dr. Osman for a dedication to teaching
and her contagious high energy. In fact, she’s so highly
regarded as a clinical teacher that she today is also receiving
a second award for excellence in clinical instruction
in primary care. Today Dr. Osman is
unable to attend but did want to, quote, “pass
along my deepest gratitude and warmest wishes to
the graduating class and their families,” unquote. Accepting the two awards for
her today will be Dr. Woo. [APPLAUSE] Next we have Dr. Alex Carbo. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Carbo is receiving
the award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction at the
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He’s an assistant professor
of medicine and practices as a hospitalist. Dr. Carbo also co-directs of
the sub-internship in medicine at the BIDMC, which is always
a very highly rated experience. Throughout his career,
he has been dedicated to medical student
education and today is unable to attend
because he and his wife just welcomed a
daughter into the world. Let’s applaud again for him. [APPLAUSE] Dr. John Fromson– [APPLAUSE] Dr. Fromson today is receiving
the Award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction
at Faulkner Hospital. Dr. Fromson serves as
chief of psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s
Faulkner hospital and is vice chair of community
psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He’s a favorite among
students and has been honored with
numerous teaching awards throughout his career. Congratulations, again,
to you Dr. Fromson. [APPLAUSE] Dr. David Hirsh– [APPLAUSE] Dr. Hirsh is receiving
the award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction at
the Cambridge Health Alliance. Dr. Hirsh is an associate
professor of medicine at HMS and is co-founder of the
HMS-Cambridge integrated clerkship, a favorite PC
site among our students and a major draw for people
who are applying to our school. He is beloved by
his students who praise him for his compassion
and his incredible teaching ability. Congratulations
again, Dr. Hirsh. [APPLAUSE] Continuing along– Dr.
Alexandra Chabrerie. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Chabrerie is receiving
the award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction
at Mount Auburn Hospital. Dr. Chabrerie is a primary
care physician and director of medical student education
in the department of medicine at Mount Auburn Hospital. Students widely
consider Dr. Chabrerie to be an incredible
teacher and mentor. Congratulations, Dr. Chabrerie. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Anthony D’Amico– [APPLAUSE] Dr. D’Amico is
receiving the award for Excellence in
Mentoring and Advising by a Senior Faculty Member. A professor in radiation
oncology, Dr. D’Amico is known to most for his role
as advisory dean and director of the Oliver Wendell
Holmes Society. From providing sage
career advice to Freudian psychoanalysis and insights
into love and passion, Dr. D’Amico has found a way
to deeply touch and impact almost every member
of this community. Congratulations Dr. D’Amico. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Natasha Johnson– [APPLAUSE] Dr. Johnson is
receiving the award for Excellence in
Mentoring and Advising by a Junior Faculty Member. Dr. Johnson is an
assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology
and reproductive biology and serves as the director
for the OB/Gyn clerkship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The OB/Gyn clerkship
run by Dr. Johnson is universally praised for
its impeccable organization and incredible teaching. I can personally attest
to what an incredible six weeks the rotation is. Congratulations Dr. Johnson. [APPLAUSE] And last but not
least, Carla Fujimoto– [APPLAUSE] Now retired, Carla is
receiving the award for the Harvard Medical
School Student Life Award. Carla has been 36 years
at HMS, 21 of which were spent in the Office
of Student Affairs. When I asked a
good friend what he thinks of when I
mention Carla, he said, someone who is
always there to help, someone who always
brightens your day, and someone who will always
get you out of trouble. While we miss her
in retirement, HMS is a better place because
of the years of dedication of Carla Fujimoto. Thank you, Carla. [APPLAUSE] One more round of applause for
all of the award winners today. [APPLAUSE] It is now my honor and privilege
to introduce the Harvard Medical School Class of 2017
commencement speaker, Dr. George Q. Daley. [APPLAUSE] George Q. Daley is the Dean
of Harvard Medical School, Caroline Shields Walker
professor of medicine, and professor of
biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology
at Harvard Medical School. He received his
bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a doctorate
degree in biology from MIT, and, most importantly,
his medical degree from the HST program at
Harvard Medical School. Dean Daley stayed close to home,
training in internal medicine at Massachusetts
General Hospital, where he served as chief resident,
and followed that up with a fellowship in
hematology oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and
Boston Children’s Hospital. Dean Daley is an internationally
renowned stem cell researcher. He has been elected to the
National Academy of Medicine, the American Society for
Clinical Investigation, the American Association
of Physicians, the American Pediatric Society,
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. Even with such academic
prowess, what makes Dean Daley most impressive
are his personal qualities. From his first days as
dean, starting this January, he has demonstrated a commitment
to our medical and dental student community. From inviting students
to the Green Dragon Pub to championing issues of
diversity and inclusion, Dean Daley has
established himself as a role model for all
of us at HMS and HSDM. It is my distinct
pleasure to introduce Dean Daley on his
inaugural graduation as dean of Harvard
Medical School. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much. And thank you for
the invitation. I am unknown to many of
the current graduates. For them, the true dean
of Harvard Medical School who served brilliantly
for the last nine years is Dean Jeff Flier. And I want to just
take this moment to acknowledge Jeff and
all of his fabulous service to Harvard Medical School. [APPLAUSE] I believe you also got
to meet and interact with an interim dean,
Barbra McNeil, who also served brilliantly. Thank you, Barbara. [APPLAUSE] So good afternoon to this
outstanding class of 2017. A warm welcome to
families, friends, loved ones, those
here on the quad, and those who are joining
us on live streaming. Let me recognize my esteemed
colleagues, faculty members here and the fantastic
deans and administrators who make up the leadership here
of Harvard Medical School. It is wonderful
to gather together with you as we celebrate
your remarkable achievements on this day. Now graduates, just
about now, I think, your parents and your friends
are checking their watch and they’re saying,
uh, who is this guy and why am I not in Harvard Yard
listening to Mark Zuckerberg? [LAUGHTER] I see some of you out there on
Facebook streaming his talk. [LAUGHTER] Was that Sarah? No. I don’t blame you. 26 years ago, I was sitting
where you’re sitting. I was sitting under this tent. It was actually a beautiful day. [LAUGHTER] Sorry to rub it in. And to make things even
worse, the HMS commencement speaker that day– Dr. Jonas Salk. I know, I know– a legendary physician
who developed the world’s first polio vaccine and saved
humanity from a great scourge. Exciting, right? Actually, no. Indeed, Dr. Salk was
a towering figure. He changed the
course of history. But as I recall, he was not
a scintillating speaker. [LAUGHTER] So who am I? So I’m the new dean of
Harvard Medical School. And, in fact, this
is my first rodeo. [APPLAUSE] Now I have not saved humanity
from a great scourge. However, I share
your background. And my story is remarkably
similar to many of yours. So I’m hopeful that
the reflections that I’m going to share,
the personal reflections on the purpose of
medical education– yours and mine– will resonate
with you in the years to come. So since becoming dean,
I’ve been asked frequently, did you always want
to be a doctor? And the answer is no. My grandfather was a physician. And growing up, my family had
great reverence for doctors. But when I was in middle school,
high school, and actually much of college, I did not
see medicine in my future. Did I have any inkling of
the path that I would take? No. But what I did have
were goals, ideals, and values that served me well. I grew up in Catskill, a
small town, 4,500 people in upstate rural New York. And at Catskill
High School, I was inspired by outstanding
teachers, many in science and English. I was thrilled when I was
accepted at Harvard College and I was granted a
national scholarship, which allowed me to attend. I imagined I might one
day become a scholar, but I wasn’t sure in what field. Now no career path
is ever straight. My first exposure to research
came in a freshman seminar on spiders. I terrorized– I
terrorized my roommates by conducting breeding
experiments on black widows in my dorm room at night. That’s when they bred. Now, however, I found many
of the science classes pretty impersonal. And so I initially declared
a major in philosophy. Now that detour proved
to be very enlightening. And, indeed, a
grounding in ethics proved valuable when I
later became immersed in national debates
around stem cells and gene editing of
the human germline. Well, while I first declared
a major in philosophy, serendipity stepped in
and refocused my interest towards science. As a freshman on financial
aid, I held a work study job washing dishes in a dining hall. When I returned
as a sophomore, I decided to seek more
engaging employment. So I got a job washing
dishes in a lab. [LAUGHTER] I know, not sufficiently
entrepreneurial for the millennials of today. But I was eager to learn. And within weeks, I was not only
washing beakers and test tubes but I was conducting
experiments. Now later after my
junior year at Harvard, I shadowed a
physician at the MGH and I witnessed firsthand
the power of medicine to change lives. And so thereafter,
it opened my eyes to the prospect of a
career in medical research coupled to patient care. As a Harvard
undergraduate, I was assembling all of the pieces to
become a physician scientist. I was configuring a career
aspiration that appended scholarship to service. And I was laying a foundation
for a life rich and full of meaning and purpose. So as you, the class
of 2017, reflect on all that you’ve accomplished
in graduating today, my call to each of you
is to always preserve the ideals that first
drew you to medicine and the ideals that drew
you to a life of service. The purpose of your
medical education is to enable you to serve. Now life is all about
setting goals and striving to meet them. Your goals, your guideposts
are directly related to your ideals and your values. They reflect on who
you are at your core. Setting ambitious
goals is essential. You are embarking
on your careers at a truly exciting and
challenging juncture in human history. We live in an increasingly
complex, chaotic, and competitive
world, one that is changing at breathtaking pace. The world that
you are inheriting is one in which
science and biomedicine will play a central role. Harvard has trained you
for this complex, chaotic, and competitive world. Harvard trains leaders. And as a leader, you
have the responsibility to find solutions for the most
difficult, intractable problems that confront us today. Some of you will work to
curb health care costs. Some of you will innovate
health care delivery. Some of you will resolve
health inequities. Some of you will address our
nation’s primary care crisis. Some of you will thwart the
spread of infectious diseases. Some of you will create and
improve health care systems in under-resourced nations. And some of you will translate
promising biomedical research into the clinic, pioneering
new cures for our patients. Yes, the world needs you. The purpose of your
medical education is to enable you
to serve the world. Now the world that you
think you know so well is changing as I speak to you. Indeed, there will be seismic
changes in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. There’s an old saw that says
half of what we’ve taught you here in medical school will
be proven wrong in the future, but the conundrum is we
don’t know which half. Now this is because
medicine is on the brink of a sweeping transformation
of the medical condition. Medical breakthroughs
in the next 50 years will dwarf those
of the last 1,000. The sheer volume of information
that you have acquired in medical school is far greater
than what I ever had to absorb. And that volume will only
increase exponentially. Consequently, our mission
at Harvard Medical School has been to train and
prepare all of you to meet challenges and
fully embrace opportunities. You arrived in our community
with your own fierce passion to innovate, lead, and heal. We have strived to foster in you
a zeal for lifelong learning. Your medical education
must never stop. At HMS, we have
endeavored earnestly to educate you to
confront the complexities of modern biomedicine and
modern health care policy and to deliver the most
compassionate care so that you may improve and
safeguard the quality and richness of human life. I can’t think of any
more audacious goal than to seek to
transform human health and wellness in your
careers or any more worthy means of service
than to become a physician. But to succeed, to
deliver on your potential, to realize the full purpose
of your medical education and to make a difference
in this world, you must infuse your life’s
work with the excitement and joy that comes with giving. Research at Harvard
provides evidence that giving is a pathway to
personal growth and lasting happiness. There is functional MRI
data that gives us evidence that giving activates the
same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. I want to do that research. [LAUGHTER] Indeed, altruism is
hardwired in the brain. It’s pleasurable. Through helping
others, you’ll live a happier, more productive,
and more meaningful life. And it gets even better. Research indicates that living
a purposeful, service-oriented life may actually
increase your lifespan. Research also shows
that giving money away actually makes us happier
than spending it on ourselves. And that’s true
all over the world. Someone’s clapping out there. I agree. [APPLAUSE] This is true all over the world. Even if the people giving the
money are relatively poor, data from a hundred
countries in a Gallup poll showed that people who
donate money to charity are simply happier, whether it’s
poor countries or rich ones. And how happy has nothing
to do with how much we give but on what we determine to be
the impact of our contribution, the mere act of giving,
of being generous. The feeling of making
a positive contribution is what gives us happiness. Franklin Roosevelt
said, happiness is not in the possession of money, it
lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of
creative effort. Now human connections shape us. They give us the wherewithal
to see merit and value in the present. Experiences rather
than material things fulfill our psychological needs. I can’t think of a
profession more imbued with the opportunity for
rewarding experiences than medicine. After all, medicine
touches on so many aspects of a fulfilling life– learning, puzzling,
connecting, giving, giving the gift of health
and even sometimes giving the gift of life itself. And research tells
us that experiences define our happiness far more
than the amount of money we make and spend in a lifetime. Multiple studies show that a
large income and material goods do not guarantee happiness. A Princeton study revealed that
once you earn about $75,000 a year, you get no
measurable boost in happiness from making more money. In other words, after you
accumulate a certain amount of wealth, it becomes
increasingly more difficult to buy happiness. There’s a Chinese
saying that goes, if you want happiness
for an hour, take a nap. Some of you are sleeping. [LAUGHTER] If you want happiness
for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for
a year, inherit a fortune. But if you want happiness
for a life, help somebody. [APPLAUSE] These wise words remind
us that happiness is not found in material things
but in service to others. Now as physicians,
as scientists, remember that it is our
privilege to serve others, our responsibility to
ease pain and suffering, and our calling
to advance health and wellness for our patients. Do not let choices
about how you will serve be dictated by ambitions
for financial enrichment. As a physician, you will
always be employable. Instead, choose your career path
based on passion and purpose. Out there today there are
pioneers, inventors, healers, future leaders. What kind of world
will you be leading? What kind of world
can you imagine? Imagine a world where
we prevent disease by editing our
genetic code, our DNA. Because of our
evolving knowledge of the genome and the
remarkable new gene editing technology
called CRISPR, we are on the path to curing
diseases like sickle cell anemia and forms of
deafness and blindness. Imagine a world in which we
can reprogram, reverse engineer our own skin cells, growing
replacement tissues in the lab to treat the ravages
of injury and disease. Imagine a world where we can
halt and even reverse aging. Imagine a world where
we can cure cancer with better, safer drugs,
therapeutics so precise they target each patient’s
specific abnormal genetic signature without
the collateral damage that current therapies inflict. Imagine a world where
we create DNA maps at birth that enable us
to forecast and avert the development of disease. You can make all of
these things happen. You are in the vanguard
of a new generation of medical practitioners
and scientists who will change the
practice of medicine and the quality of human health. It’s unquestionable. The world needs the best
you’ve got to give– your determination, your
creativity, your intellect, your compassion,
and your idealism. I trust that you will do
well and contribute much. I have faith that we
have prepared you well. With this graduation
today, you may believe that your medical
education is ending, but, trust me, it is just beginning. In that spirit, I
want to leave you with a few questions that
may help you further identify the goals and guideposts that
you will need in the years to come to realize
the full purpose of your lifelong
medical education. How will you remain committed
to a life of learning? What pursuits will give
your life true meaning? How will you fulfill your
potential to help and to serve? What will you do in your career
and in your personal life to make the world
a better place? The Buddhist monk,
Thich Nhat Hanh, once said, compassion is a verb. There is no greater purpose than
using your medical education to improve the lives
and health of others. Now soon, you will
receive your diplomas, you will step
across the threshold into a new life, one that
will have been working on for many years. You will make the transition
from Harvard Medical student to a Harvard Medical trained
physician or dentist. Your friends and
family will address you for the first time as doctor. And, before you
know it, you will be starting your
post-graduate internship programs that truly mark the
threshold of your careers. Can you believe
this day has arrived and doesn’t it feel good? [APPLAUSE] I know a little bit about this. I remember so well sitting
where you are 26 years ago, ready to receive my MD degree
on this very same quadrangle. I weathered the
address by Jonas Salk. And you have just weathered
my first commencement address as dean– congratulations. [APPLAUSE] But before I finish,
let’s all acknowledge that you didn’t get to
this graduation moment entirely on your own. Let’s pause to
consider all those who have supported you so well–
your parents, your siblings, your partners, your friends,
your fellow students. Let’s thank them for
all their encouragement, support, and love that have been
provided throughout the years. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, family and friends. I hope I’ve given you
some questions to ponder. I wish you a life filled
with the excitement of continuous learning. I wish you a life filled with
the joy that comes with giving, the joy that comes
with serving others. I wish you a life of purpose
and meaning and sheer delight. It’s an honor to celebrate
this day with you. We all look forward to
watching your careers flourish as you go forward to make
this world a better place. Congratulations to
the class of 2017. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much, Dean Daley. I know personally and
on behalf of our class, we’re all very happy you are
our commencement speaker. So before we award the
diplomas to our graduates, we would like to remember
a special student who was a member of
the class of 2017, but unfortunately is
not with us today. I’d like to invite Daniel
Bergeconde up to the stage to share a few words. I apologize. I’m going to have to
read this because I want to make it through without
being overcome by emotion. As we gather here to
celebrate our completion of medical school and what
has passed the horizon, it is only proper to remember
those we lost along the way. Terms like brilliant
and genius are overused at places like Harvard. However, Eliana Hechter could
aptly be described as both. Graduating magna cum laude from
the University of Washington with a degree in
mathematics at the age of 18 and earning a PhD as the
second youngest Rhodes Scholar in history from
Oxford University, her honors and
awards were numerous. As if she wasn’t
accomplished enough, she was also a
published author who wrote novels and short stories. I had the pleasure of
knowing Eliana as both her teacher and her classmate. Eliana was my favorite
kind of student– dry humor, infinitely
more mature than I was. She was never satisfied with an
answer she didn’t understand, someone I thought should
be teaching the class rather than taking the class. Before class, we would sit
in the HST lounge and discuss the struggles of being
in our late 20’s. On April 6, 2014 Eliana lost
a battle with depression and took her own life. Our society stigmatizes
depression and suicide, so it’s only talked about in
hushed voice behind closed doors. However, at places
like MIT and Harvard where we’re always
driven to achieve more– and as we enter the world
of doctoring– stress is ever present. Add to that life outside
of work, relationships, and family, we may
feel like we’re barely able to keep
our heads above water. It’s easy to feel
like we are all alone and a burden to those around
us and no one would understand, but, in truth, it’s
just the opposite. In medicine, we’re taught
to never worry alone. We take this to heart when
dealing with our patients, however, we rarely apply
it to our personal lives. Graduating from Harvard is
more than just a piece of paper and hundreds of
thousands of debt, it is joining a
community, one which cares deeply for its members. From your society mates to
your fellow clerkship members to Franceni at the
cafe to Dean Hundert, there are people
who care about you. If you feel depressed,
if you have a problem, if you feel like
you need a laugh or just want to scream at
the top of your lungs, please reach out. Reach out to your parents,
reach out to your partner, your mentor, your
friends, me, just reach out to someone, please. Perhaps that is the
last great lesson that Eliana will teach us. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much Danny for
your meaningful reflection. As we celebrate
our graduation, we will also remember and
celebrate Eliana’s life. So now it’s the moment
we’ve all been waiting for. I see over there what looks
like probably diplomas. It is my distinct
pleasure to introduce the Dean of the Harvard School
of Dental Medicine, Dr. Bruce Donoff. Dr. Donoff fully embodies the
bridge between our two schools. He received his DMD
from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine 50 years
ago in the school’s 100th year and then went on to earn his
MD from the Harvard Medical School as part of his residency
in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Massachusetts General
Hospital, where he continued his work being named chairman
in chief of the service in 1983. He has served as our
dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine
for over 25 years, which is incredible. In his career, he has
authored numerous papers and been the recipient of
some of the highest honors and awards, including the
Alpha Omega Achievement Medal, an honor that he shared
with Dr. Albert Einstein, which is pretty good
company, if you ask me. To this day, he remains one
of the most progressive minds in dental medicine,
continuously advocating for the further integration
of our two fields– dentistry and medicine. But, probably, his most
significant contribution has been as a teacher
and as a personal mentor to many students. He even took time out of
his extremely busy schedule to evaluate one of my patients
who we had consulted everyone from endodontics to
orofacial pain multiple times to see the patient. During this time, he
demonstrated swift knowledge, as well as thoughtful
care and concern. It is now my sincere
honor and privilege in the school’s 150th
year to introduce our beloved Dean of the Harvard
School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Bruce Donoff. [APPLAUSE] Well, good afternoon. Congratulations to all the
graduates, to their loved ones, Dean Daley, all of the faculty. This is such a special
day for all the graduates at the Harvard School
of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical
School, class of 2017. [APPLAUSE] Congratulations to you all
and to all of your loved ones. Welcome to George
Daley, our new dean of the faculty of medicine. George, you’ve hit
the ground running, and I’ll bet you
they invite you back to give a commencement
address next year. This is a very
special commencement as this year marks the 150th
anniversary of the founding of our school on July 17, 1867. You, all the graduates
are at a major milestone of a long journey of
education and training designed to permit you to help
people through the discovery, application, and communication
of knowledge, ability, compassion, and caring. The development of wisdom
and clinical judgment through lifelong learning
and further experience represents the road ahead. Each year, I have tried to
associate the graduating classes with some
particular event or issue in order to create a
lasting memory for myself. In 1992, my first
year as dean, it was my 25th reunion from HSDM. In 1998, it was the
first class graduating from the four-year
problem-based learning program. In 2015, it was the unbelievable
record snowfall in Boston. This year I will remember
you the HSDM class of 2017 for your involvement
in organized dentistry, whether that is by being
the number one student group in presenting papers
at national meetings or in papers published– no small feat for one of
the smallest dental schools in the nation. Your sincere, deep passion for
improving the lives of others, especially those with
the greatest need, whether that was in community
clinics, the Windsor Clinic at Cambridge
Health Alliance, or helping to establish a
new dental school in Rwanda. I will remember your class
because it was the last class that I taught Patient-Doctor 1– the joy of my week, as I
witness neophyte doctors interview patients without much
knowledge of their illnesses. It fostered learning
about the person and the social
determinants of health. It was your class in
the celebratory year of our 150th anniversary
that piloted a dental school primary care medical
practice in the dental center with first- and
fourth-year students and physicians and dentists
seeing patients together. Our school’s initiative
to integrate oral health and medicine reached new heights
with a day of oral health for all of the first-year
medical and dental students and nurse practitioners
and nursing students coming together with dental
students and faculty to offer primary care
services to patients at the dental school. Nelson Mandela said, quote,
“it always seems impossible until it is done,” end quote. And we are doing it now. This morning, President
Faust conferred your degrees and welcomed you into a
demanding branch of medicine. That is our mantra and
that is the principle that the school was founded on. On July 17, 1867, Harvard
was the first university to open a dental school
as part of a university with its affiliated medical
school and the first to grant the DMD degree. It also graduated the
first black dentists in 1869 and 1870. And today more than ever,
we maintain diversity as one of our core values. We will celebrate 150 years
of being true to that legacy and we celebrate you,
the class of 2017. Edward D. Churchill,
a great surgeon, said in the New England
Journal in 1951, the most significant
trend of the 20th century is that towards cultivating the
discipline of the mind needed to complement and guide
surgical technology. Not every diagnosis of dental
decay and gingival disease requires surgical methods. Immunization by
vaccination now has its equivalent in oral health. Understanding susceptibility
to dental decay based upon genetics, nutrition,
economic and social status, and the use of what can be
called dental immunization by remineralization,
tooth protection by fluoride treatment
and sealants can eliminate the use of
the drill in many cases. Understanding the microbiome
during infancy to childhood may lead to new treatments of the
number one non-communicable disease in the world– dental decay. Dental decay sounds
insignificant, but it probably leads to more
pain, more missed school days, and nutrition issues
and slow development than any other
childhood disease. Dental immunization
represents a wonderful example of medical management
of surgical disease. Ever since Australian physicians
Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won a Nobel Prize in medicine
in 2005 for the discovery that gastric ulcers
are caused by bacteria, I have become
enamored of the term. Their discovery that
Helicobacter pylori was groundbreaking and
opened up the study of the human microbiome. The practices of medicine
and dentistry for all of you will undoubtedly be shaped by
discoveries in these areas, whether the findings are
related to the intestine or the oral cavity. It will take just one
of you to discover how the human immune system
turns these normal inhabitants into pathogens. I liken the concept of natural
microbes being involved in disease with the
realization in the mid-1800s that cholera could be
transmitted by water, when at the time, airborne
transmission of all disease was thought to be the norm. Increasingly, data shows
that good oral health leads to better
management of total health and reduced medical costs. Integration of oral health
and primary care medicine is important. And your education with
the medical students has prepared you
better than most for leading this charge and
change in the dental profession that we’ll see changes in
the model of care and changes in the value
statements of dentists. When I greeted you
four or five years ago, I told you that communities
based on merit and passion are rare and that people
who have been part of them never forget them. I said that I believed
HSDM to be such a community and I hoped your time
here would make you appreciate that
experience, no matter where your future
careers might take you. I told you that you were
entering a school that does not strive to produce a uniform
product but an exceptional one. Today knowing you, each
an exceptional individual, I believe that our joint
efforts have borne fruit. You will be a great dentists
and exceptional oral physicians. You have learned to appreciate
that patients are unique. And by your education
here, you will be doctors who understand the
complex and deep relationship between oral health and the
health of the whole body. So congratulations to the 35
individuals receiving the DMD degree, 7 with honors
in special field, and 6 receiving a degree
with general honors, 17 received the master of
medical science degree and 9 the doctor
medical science degree. And congratulations to all the
residents and fellows receiving their certificates
who will also go on to make an impact in
their chosen field. But remember, we are privileged
to take care of people. Treat them well,
treat them kindly, and treat them with respect. Above all, treat
them all equally with one high standard of care. Don’t allow missions of
mercy, thousands of people lined up for free
dental care periodically to become the profession’s
scar of oral health delivery. Don’t permit our growing
elderly population’s oral health needs from being
excluded from Medicare. Just so you know, 1 in 5
Americans older than 65 do not have a single real
tooth left in their mouths. 2 million emergency room
visits occurred because of dental issues in 2016– mostly pain. $1.6 billion is what
those visits cost, with most treatments
being pain killers. And 25% of Americans– 81 million people– don’t have
access to fluoridated water. Your achievement should
make you very proud. Those who have help you
reach this day and those who have nurtured and
sustained you share that pride, I am sure. The entire HSDM community
and I feel no small measure of joy and pride in
your accomplishments. We look forward to your futures
with justifiably high hopes. Congratulations to
the class of 2017. I hope your memories
of HSDM and HMS will always remain a
treasured part of who you are and who you become. Be the leaders you are in
transforming our health care world through science, policy,
and compassionate care. Congratulations. [LAUGHTER] I think it’s my honor
to call up Dr. Sang Park and our senior tutors. And we will distribute
diplomas, yes? Good afternoon. I’m Sang Park, Associate
Dean for Dental Education in the School of
Dental Medicine. On behalf of all
faculty, I’d like to express how proud
we are of all of you. And I’m so honored to be
presenting the members of the class of 2017. Will the members of their
class please rise and approach the podium to their right. [APPLAUSE] These women and men have
completed four or more years of studies toward the degree
of doctor of dental medicine. Assisting in the
hooding today are members of the dental faculty
and they are Dr. Esra Yener, Dr. Armando Pardo, Dr. Aram Kim,
Dr. Sam Coffin, and Dr. Maha Almusa. Class, are you ready? You waited long enough, so
I won’t keep you any longer. [READING NAMES] Ladies and gentlemen,
please join me in congratulating the Harvard
School of Dental Medicine class of 2017. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, again, Dean
Donoff for your remarks. And congratulations to you
all HSDM class of 2017. It is now my honor to introduce
the dean of medical education at Harvard Medical
School, Dr. Ed Hundert. [APPLAUSE] Dean Hundert received
his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and the history
of science and medicine from Yale University and has
been a part of the HMS family since his time as
a student here. He went on to a residency in
psychiatry at McLean Hospital where he was its chief resident. He served as associate
dean for student affairs from 1990 to 1997 here
at HMS, during which time he received numerous
teaching, mentoring, and diversity awards. And he was voted the,
quote, “faculty member who did the most for
the class,” unquote, by Harvard Medical School
graduates for not one, not two, but five different years. After serving as dean of
the University of Rochester School of Medicine
and Dentistry and then president of Case Western
Reserve University, he returned to Harvard. In 2015, he became dean
of medical education when he led the introduction
of the pathways curriculum here, among many
other initiatives. Dean Hundert is a
beloved faculty member. One of my favorite
memories of medical school is when one afternoon, sitting
on the steps of Gordon Hall, I saw Dean Hundert coming out
from the office going home. He saw me, stopped, sat
down on the steps with me and proceeded to chat
with me about his years as a medical student
here and encouraged me to go into surgery,
seeing that I was tying some knots over there. So it is my distinct
privilege to welcome Dean Hundert to the podium
to share his remarks today entitled “what is the difference
between heaven and hell?” Let’s give him a
round of applause. [APPLAUSE] Well, thank you very much. Well, class, you did it. Give yourselves a hand. [APPLAUSE] Give yourselves a hand. Now, more importantly, I want
you to stand up, turn around, and give your parents and
families and teachers a hand. [APPLAUSE] I was so touched
when I was asked to share a few reflections
in this spot in the program where Dean Daley
would usually speak, if he weren’t the featured
speaker here today. And I immediately thought
of so many messages I’d like to share with you. As you officially become
physicians and dentists today, you at once assume
the joyous privilege and the arduous responsibility
to care for the health and welfare of those in need. I remember being here
heading into my internship feeling rather
terrified by the thought that the month before I was a
medical student with a somewhat ambiguous role on
the team and a month after graduation, what I’d
say in the hospital room would be echoed repeatedly
through the extended family as what mom’s doctor
explained to us this afternoon about where things stand. I shared this
anxiety of graduation with one of my mentors. And I wasn’t
especially reassured when she said, you know,
Ed, you’re not alone. The truth is we’re all
in way over our heads most of the time when we
care for the sick and dying. I sought some solace from
the wisdom of the ages and could only think of
Mother Teresa’s famous comment when she once said, “I
know God wouldn’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that he
didn’t trust me so much.” [LAUGHTER] So after trying
to get myself back into the mindset of my hopes and
fears that my HMS graduation, I narrowed the many messages I
thought I would share with you today to just three,
which, in truth, probably capture all
the rest in some way. The first message
is a message you’ll hear over and over during
your internship orientations next month and
that’s the admonition to never worry alone. When they tell you that, don’t
ever worry alone, it turns out, they really mean it. You have to realize that
we are all only human. So please, please remember
to ask for help from others when you need it. It’s not a sign of
weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of competence
and compassion. This is connected to my
second message, which is to remember that
as important as it is to take your work
in medicine seriously, it’s equally important not to
take yourself too seriously. This work isn’t about us anyway. It’s really about the
patients and their families. And those are the ones who you
need to take seriously, not yourself. As the great British theologian
G.K. Chesterton once said, the reason angels can fly
is that they take themselves lightly. The third message I want
to share concerns the times you’ll have– and we
all have these times– when you’ll feel
inadequate to the task. There will be times
when you’ll wonder if you’re up to this
challenge of serving others. And the truth is, there are
times when even the world’s experts come to the conclusion
that modern medicine itself is still inadequate
to the problems that are facing our patients. At this podium some years ago,
one of the student speakers memorably said, you enter
HMS answering most questions, I don’t know. And then after learning from
the experts for four years, you leave answering most
questions “we don’t know.” Today, you join the
we who don’t know. Though we who need to
rely on others to help us figure it out on
behalf of our patients. And, importantly,
you joined the we who do the research so
that more can be known, so that more can be done. But– and this is
my main message– always remember that even
when you can’t figure out how to fix every one of your
patient’s problems, what you can do is give them
your full attention and show them how much you care. In some philosophies they
say that giving someone your full attention is
the highest form of love. And I’m convinced it’s the
active ingredient in the care that we provide. We think of Francis Weld
Peabody’s famous observation that the secret of the
care of the patient is in caring for the patient. So on this auspicious
day in your lives, I would like to share
a story with you. It’s a story about caring,
about helping others. It’s a story about a man
who lived his whole life caring for others,
helping others, making a positive difference
in their lives, even when he didn’t know
them, even when he could expect nothing back in return. And when this man was
very old, one night when he was sleeping, as the story
goes, an angel was sent down. And the angel told the
old man that for all he had done for his family
and friends and neighbors and other people he hardly knew
that he was to be granted one wish, any wish
he’d like to make. The old man thought
about it for a moment and realizing he didn’t have
much time left on this earth, he began contemplating
the future. And he answered
that for his wish, he’d like to see what
it’s like in heaven and what it’s like in hell. The angel smiled and said
that his wish would be granted and took him by the hand
and immediately they were off through space
and time until they arrived at a tremendous
estate with lush gardens and beautiful trees. And soon they were in front
of the door of a large mansion right in the center
of the estate. They opened the door and walked
through a beautifully decorated hallway and up a magnificent
spiral staircase. At the top of the
staircase, they faced a set of huge double
doors with gorgeous brasswork and ornate carvings. The two doors then opened,
revealing a dining room that was incredible with a
huge polished wooden table in the middle and beautiful
artwork all around. And the table was covered with
platters of delicious food that filled the old man’s senses
with the smell of a freshly cooked festive meal. And from where he stood
just inside the doorway he could also see people sitting
in large, comfortable chairs all around the table. But the people he saw did not
appear to be enjoying the food. In fact, they all
sat silently, looking pale and pained and emaciated. Almost as if they were starving
to death sitting right in front of the feast before them. The old man couldn’t
understand what was happening. But then he noticed that all
of the people around the table had these heavy wooden sticks
tied tightly to their arms so that despite their hunger
and the sumptuous banquet before them, they couldn’t
bend their arms to get the food from the table to their mouths. And the angel said
to the old man, this is what it’s like in hell. The old man nodded
that he understood and immediately the two were off
again through space and time. Soon they arrived at
their next destination, which was also a tremendous
estate with lush gardens and beautiful trees. Again, in the center
of the estate, they found a large mansion and
when the front doors opened, they entered another
beautifully decorated hallway and went up what
appeared to be almost the same magnificent
spiral staircase. At the top of the
stairs, they again faced a set of huge double doors with
ornate brasswork and carvings. And as the doors
opened, the old man was surprised to see a
nearly identical dining room incredible with its
polished wooden table, covered with platters of delicious food. And, again, there were people
sitting around the table. But, this time, they looked
well-fed and well-nourished. And, in fact, they were
all laughing and talking and singing as they enjoyed
the sumptuous feast. And the old man looked
closely at the people, and he saw that they too
had heavy wooden sticks tied tightly to each of their
arms so that they also could bend their elbows to
get the food from their table to their mouths. But he saw that in
this place, the people knew that simply by
turning to the side they could feed one another. And by doing so, they
could enjoy the bounty that was provided for them. And the angel explained this
is what it’s like in heaven. You see, old man,
the angel went on, most people don’t realize that
heaven and hell are exactly the same place– the very earth on which we live. The only difference
between the two is that people
like yourself who, during their time on this
earth, have found themselves in helping others, in reaching
out, and sharing with others, in caring for others. They bring to that
identical circumstance the solution to the
predicament that can make this
earth a living hell or turn that hellish
circumstance into joy, into healing, into prosperity. And so I say to each of you, our
newest physicians and dentists, a class of remarkable
individuals who have distinguished
yourselves throughout your
lives and certainly through your years
with us here at HMS, not only as dedicated
students of the art and science of
medicine, but also as people who turn to
reach out to help those who are less fortunate, to help
those in need, I say to you– no matter how much
medical science you learn, no matter how much
professional success you enjoy, never forget the
old man’s lesson in your interactions with
patients and families who entrust their care
to you and equally in your interactions
with one another as colleagues in this wonderful
profession of medicine and, indeed, in
your interactions with all people
anywhere and everywhere. Always remember that only
by turning to one another in a spirit of compassion
and caring will we transform that crazy,
sometimes hellish circumstance of modern medicine and America,
transform it into the living heaven on earth that American
medicine can and will become thanks to
people like all of you. Let me again congratulate
all the families, teachers, friends, and others who
have joined to share in this great occasion. But, most of all,
congratulations to you, our students, who
inspire me every day– now our graduates– joining
the wonderful fellowship of HMS alumni. We, alumni, have a lot
of fun together too, as I hope you will discover. I wish you all the very best of
luck, health, and fulfillment in all you do. Please always remember
the immortal words of Margaret Mead,
who said, never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only
thing that ever has. Class of 2017, you are that
group of thoughtful, committed people, who by reaching out,
turning, helping all of us do better will
transform the lives of your patients
and their families and will transform
American medicine. Congratulations to all. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. So now we’re going to get Dean
Daley up here and Dean Saldana. This is another moment
you’ve all been waiting for. We’re going to award
the MD degrees. And a little bit of background
for how we do this– as many of you know, the Harvard
Medical School and Harvard School of Dental
Medicine are divided into learning communities,
five academic societies. And so we have the
leader of each society, the Advisory Dean, come
up and call them names. The other faculty advisors
and staff of the society help with the hooding
of the students. The routine, as
you’ve seen it, you’ve come up here and walk
in front of the podium and get a photo with the
dean as you get your degree. The other tradition
that we have here that is important to
remember is that our students are very productive. They publish a lot of papers. They do a lot of other
things, but they also sometimes produce children while
they’re here in medical school. And so we believe that
there’s a great tradition of bringing your kids up here
on the podium if you can. And so as you get
your HMS sheepskin, the other thing
we do is we award for the children a
little HMS lambie to go with the sheepskin. And so I’ll be over here
helping give those out, as well. So we go in alphabetical order,
and so we start with the Walter B. Cannon Society. And with that,
I’d like to invite the advisory dean of the
Cannon Society, Dr. Sara Fazio. [APPLAUSE] Good afternoon. I am proud to present the
graduating class of 2017 from the Walter
Bradford Cannon Society. Graduates, please rise and
come forward to the stage. Hooding the graduates
this afternoon will be Dr. Kate Treadway,
associate director and adviser, Dr. Julian Seifter, associate
director and adviser, and Anne Hudson, coordinator
extraordinaire of the Cannon Society. [READING NAMES] Congratulations, Cannon. [APPLAUSE] Next up, we invite all members
of the William B. Castle Society to rise. The Castle students
will be introduced by the advisory dean of the
Castle Society, Dr. Jennifer Potter. Good afternoon, everyone. It is my distinct
pleasure to call up the members of the graduating
class of 2017 who are members of the Castle Society. Congratulations to all of you. Helping to hood today is my
co-adviser, Dr. Dana Stearns, Dr. Ronald Arky, who is
the former advisory dean and director of the
Peabody Society, and the Castle
Society coordinator extraordinaire, Claudia Galeas. [READING NAMES] Congratulations all of you. [APPLAUSE] Next up, would the members
of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society please rise and
approach the podium. Announcing the graduates from
the Oliver Wendell Holmes Society is the advisory dean
of Holmes, Dr. Anthony D’Amico. Come on up. It’s a great pleasure
to be able to be here to confer the name of doctor for
the first time on the graduates of the Oliver Wendell
Holmes family. Hooding our students will be
Dr. Helen Shields and Dr. Emily Oken, and our
program officer, who we all know and love, Ms. Csilla
Kiss, will be greeting them, as well. Let’s give our hooders and
Ms. Kiss a hand, please. [READING NAMES] Let’s congratulate all the
graduates of the Oliver Wendell Holmes family. [APPLAUSE] So next up, I would ask the
graduates from the Irving London Society, the HST
Program to rise and approach the podium. As you may know, this
is the only society that differentiates itself by
having a living named society, Irving London, still with us. We’ve lost Peabody,
Holmes, Castle, and Cannon. And the advisory dean of the
London Society HST Program is Dr. Wolfram Goessling. Good afternoon, Class of 2017. The HST students are
already lining up here. And helping me
with their hooding, I’d like to introduce my
good colleagues and friends, Rick Mitchell, who is
the associate director of the London Society and
HST, and Matthew Frosch, the associate director of HST,
and our HST coordinator, Patty Cunningham. It is now my pleasure to
introduce to you the graduates of the Irving M. London
Society of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health
Sciences and Technology. [READING NAMES] Congratulations to all of
you, HST Class of 2017. And last but not least,
I asked the graduates from the Francis
Weld Peabody Society to please stand and
approach the podium. Announcing the graduates
from the Peabody Society will be the Peabody Advisory
Dean, Dr. Bernard Chang. Good afternoon. It is my distinct
privilege to be able to introduce to
you the class of 2017 graduates from the Francis
Weld Peabody Society. Hooding our graduates, our
senior associate director, Dr. Beverly Woo, Associate
Director Dr. Susan Pauker, Associate Director Terry
Maratos-Flier, our program coordinator, Lisa Derendorf, and
the inaugural and founding head of the Francis Weld Peabody
Society, Dr. Ronald Arky. [READING NAMES] Congratulations,
Peabody Society. And let’s have one more
hand for the class of 2017. [APPLAUSE] Congratulations. Congratulations,
now that you are all alums of Harvard Medical
and Harvard Dental School, we would like to have a few
words from Dr. AW Karchmer from the Alumni Council. I am honored and privileged
to greet you on behalf of the Alumni Association. I want to begin by offering
congratulations personally and on behalf of the association
to the classes of 2017 at Harvard Medical
School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. I realize that you haven’t had
your oath administered yet. And I fear that if
I take too long, people will began to
drop from hypothermia and you will be called
to service before you’re officially sworn in. So I will be brief. I have a couple of messages. One, I want to welcome you
to the Alumni Association. I want to encourage
you to maintain the connections
between one another that you have established here. I want to encourage you to
maintain your connections with the schools, and I want
to invite you and encourage you to look to your schools as
a source of lifelong education as you go forth today. The other message
I want to give you has to do with the transitions
that you’re going through from student, student-teacher,
to caregiver and teacher. And I just want to
get this message that was given to me by Dr.
Daniel Federman, who is one of the renowned faculty
at Harvard Medical School. And Dan said, as you work
with others providing care and teaching, think
out loud, keep it simple, and never miss a
chance to be kind. And with that,
congratulations, again. Welcome, alumni, from the
Harvard Alumni Association. Godspeed, and good luck
to you and future success. And to complete the
afternoon, I would ask all of the
graduates to stand and any physicians or dentists
who wish to reaffirm the oath. Since the time of Hippocrates
over 2,000 years ago, medical practitioners
have taken an oath to uphold the principles of the
vocation to which they dedicate themselves. In setting forth
these principles, the oath serves both as a
contract with the community and as an affirmation
of the deep commitment to the profession. Today, Class of 2017, you
stand before family, friends, teachers, and colleagues,
poised to join a rich tradition of discovery and healing. Being mindful of the debt you
owe to the mentorship of those who came before you while
recognizing that your work will inform the practices
of those who follow, you have created an
oath drawing on elements both ancient and recent. I now invite you, as a class,
to articulate the ideals and principles
that will guide you in your journey as
physicians and dentists. Class, I swear to
fulfill this covenant. I pledge to use my whole
spirit, knowledge, and skills to serve my patients. I will strive to cure
wherever possible, to heal to the best
of my abilities, and take comfort always. I will constantly challenge
my biases and assumptions so that I can provide the best
care to patients, regardless of color, creed, class,
gender, or nationality. I will listen to and
honor my patients’ stories by protecting their privacy
and promoting their interests as they define them. I pledge to serve my community. I will recognize the richness
that others add to my life. I will be kind. The principles of justice and
equity will guide my actions, and I will work to combat not
only the biological but also the sociopolitical threats
to health, especially for those with the least power
to advocate for themselves. I will honor my teachers who
have nurtured my development. I pledge to avoid complacency
with my education, to constantly advance
my understanding, and to help others
to do the same. I will remember that
knowledge is only a tool. And in making new discoveries,
I shall never use people as a means to an end. Finally, I will remember
to nurture myself so I can be at my best
to nurture others. In doing so, I will help
create a universal culture of unconditional support
and encouragement. From this day forward, I
commit to this oath joyfully, freely, and upon my honor. To the class of 2017,
congratulations. Go forth to heal, and
enjoy the evening. [APPLAUSE]

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