May 23, 2018

Medical students celebrate 2018 commencement

Written by

gradThe School of Medicine held its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19 at Bartow Arena. Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., F.A.C.S., senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine welcomed the 162 graduates and their families to the 2018 ceremony. Vickers noted the importance of the occasion in relation to the graduates’ hard work and future success and encouraged the new doctors to continue striving for excellence.

Salmaan Kamal, M.D., addressed the graduates as their class president. He recounted their trials and tribulations as younger medical students but concluded his speech confidently saying, “In a couple of minutes, we’ll officially become doctors, and every single one of us is ready to take that step.”

Atul Grover M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for the Association of American Medical Colleges, gave the commencement address. He touched on the subject of “do no harm”—derived from a line from the Hippocratic Oath. Grover took that message a step further, though, and encouraged the graduates, “You came to this profession with a deep desire to do good. Every patient you see deserves your full effort to do good…Be courageous. Have the courage to make a difference in your own way, whatever that means.”

During the ceremony, Craig J. Hoesley, M.D., senior associate dean for Medical Education, presented the school-wide awards during Sunday’s ceremony. Mary Grabowsky Smithson, M.D., received the Hugh J. Dempsey Award, which is given to the student with the highest overall academic achievement over the four-year course of medical school.

Sal Kamal, M.D., class president of the class of 2018, and Caroline Harada, M.D., assistant dean for Community Engaged Scholarship, were presented with the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards. Sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, these honors are given each year to a graduating student and faculty member in recognition of their value of humanism in the delivery of care to patients and their families.

Koushik Kasanagottu received the Medical Alumni Association Leadership and Community Service Award, presented by MAA President Timothy Hecker, M.D.

The ceremony concluded with the hooding of the graduates and a group reading of the Hippocratic Oath. A Military Promotion Ceremony was held earlier Saturday morning to honor and celebrate graduates who will enter military training programs.

The graduates were eager to share their excitement about the commencement experience.

“This is the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards for so long—even before starting medical school,” said Caroline Hicks, M.D. “Each of us is realizing the dream that we’ve all had for a really long time.”

“I can’t put into words what this day means to me. Given some of the challenges I faced transitioning back to medical school, it truly is an extraordinary blessing to be here today. I’m overwhelmed with joy and happiness,” said Justin Lewis, M.D.

In addition to the school-wide commencement ceremony, each of the four regional campuses (Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, and Huntsville) hosted an awards dinner to celebrate campus-specific honors.