Dean Reece and Keynote Speaker Governor Martin O'Malley
Monsoon-like weather could not keep the smiles off the faces of the Class of 2014 as they received their doctoral hoods in a special graduation ceremony at the Baltimore Convention Center on the morning of May 16, 2014. “As your Dean for the last four years, I have witnessed your growth, your ups and downs, and the perseverance that has culminated in your graduation today,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I imagine that it is with both excitement and trepidation that you anticipate taking the time-honored oath of our profession. Of course, you undoubtedly also feel an incredible sense of pride and gratitude, because what you have achieved over the last several years is an outstanding accomplishment. It is to be expected, however, that today also brings with it some understandable anxiety, as the enormity of your life-long commitment to the care of others continues to unfold.”
Even though they are entering medicine at a time of uncertainty, with a vastly changing healthcare system, and new and emerging life-saving technologies, Dean Reece encouraged the students to let go of that anxiety and take advantage of the chance to make their mark in medicine. “Seek and seize opportunities to challenge and change established practices,” he said. “Become a leader within our profession, and advance our noble cause with great urgency.”
Dean Reece also encouraged students to do what they love and let their passion power their persistence. “I believe this is one profession where the difference between love and apathy can be the difference in life and death for those you serve,” said the Dean. “As I reflect on my own personal and professional experiences, I can attest to the fact that doing what you love is, indeed, a strong indication that you are doing what you were meant to do. Whether you are treating patients, unlocking the mysteries of health and disease, or mentoring the next generation of physicians and scientists, I hope you find the same profound joy that has inspired me to lead with the expectation of pursuing excellence, every day.”
Keynote speaker Governor Martin O’Malley is well-acquainted with the excellent physicians produced here at the School of Medicine, as he has encountered many of them while visiting with firefighters, police officers and other public servants who have been hurt in the line of duty and saved by University of Maryland doctors. “I know this institution well enough to know that anyone receiving medical care from you will be grateful for the heart that has driven you to reach this milestone,” he said.
The governor admitted, though, that he believes there is a certain madness in the path these young doctors have chosen. “I don’t mean that as an insult, merely an observation,” he explained. “You are among the very few human beings on this planet who are choosing to write your story in the spaces the rest of try to hide from – sickness, death. You choose to write in the first person for the next person the story of looking mortality square in the eyes.”
Choosing medicine was not a crazy choice for David Knipp, who is the fifth-generation in his family to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It was a choice, though. “I was never pushed into medicine,” he said. “I came about it through my own passions, and I think that is the way it should be. And because of that, I will enjoy practicing medicine for years to come.” As for the legacy of having five generations of fathers and their sons attend the school, “I couldn't be prouder to be part of the Knipp family and carry on the medical legacy that we have here in Baltimore.” David was this year’s recipient of the Faculty Gold Medal for Outstanding Qualifications for the Practice of Medicine, which honors graduates with outstanding scholarly accomplishments and those qualities of humanity and dedication most desirable in a physician. Like his father Harry, Class of 1976, David is going into Radiology.
It was a rainy day four years ago when the Class of 2014 put on their white coats for the first time, “and now we’re here graduating,” said class president Joey Mechak. Although in his speech to the class he compared this medical school journey to a marathon, he still says the time has “flown by. It’s really kind of hard to believe that we’re finally here.” He encouraged his classmates to “look back and see how far we’ve come. We’re no longer those eager, anxious medical students at the starting line, we’re now competent, caring doctors and finishers in this med school marathon. We should take this day to be proud of all we’ve accomplished, to remember and reflect on what we’ve learned from everyone here at Maryland, and to thank all of those who helped us reach this finish line.”
Looking beyond medicine here at the School of Medicine, pre-commencement celebrations were also held on May 15 for students pursuing degrees other than an M.D. These ceremonies included the Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences (PTRS, pictured below), the Department of Medical & Research Technology (DMRT, pictured above), the Pathology Assistants program, the Master's in Genetic Counseling program, the Masters in Public Health program, PhD graduates, and the Graduate Program in Life Sciences. The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s graduation ceremony was held on the afternoon of May 16, but the traditional procession from University Park to the First Mariner Arena was cancelled due to the weather.