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Say Goodbye to the Class of 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008


Dean E. Albert Reece addresses the Class of 2008

The morning of May 16, 2008 may have been dark and rainy, but inside the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall spirits were bright as the Class of 2008 held their convocation ceremony. "Completion of a doctorate in the medical sciences, whether the MD or the PhD, is one of the most rigorous and demanding of all human intellectual endeavors and is thus cause for great celebration," said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, School of Medicine. "If you define your medical degree in terms of hard work, compassion, knowledge and dedication, you will never be unprepared for what comes next in your growth and development."

And there will be quite a few things coming warned guest speaker Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "Things are going to moving so quickly in the coming years that if you simply rely on what you've learned here and in your next step of residency and then go out and say, 'Now I've got it,' you will quickly be left behind," he said. "But it's nothing to fear, it's something to be enormously excited about."

Most graduates were looking forward to seeing what the future holds, even if it might be full of challenges. "I'm really excited, because it's a realization of one of my lifelong dreams," said Adetunji Williams, who is going on to a residency in Emergency Medicine at Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio. "I’m also kind of relieved and really exhausted. They say medical school is a marathon, and that's no joke, it really is."

For some students, though, it was more of a sprint. "It's hard to believe it's already here," said Christian Wright, who will be doing a residency in Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). "Time has passed so quickly," agreed Ann Parker, who will also be staying at UMMC for a residency in Internal Medicine.

Graduation day seemed a long way off to Matthew Woodford when he started here four years ago. "So it's a little surreal actually being here," he says. "I'm definitely excited, though." Matthew will also be at UMMC, for a residency in General Surgery.

Class president Joseph Yeh is headed much further away. He will do a residency in Internal Medicine at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, but his classmates will never be far from his mind. "We are truly a one-of-a-kind class. Or so we've been told over and over," he joked. "I think we will be remembered for our genuine class camaraderie as well as for our active engagement in our community."

What Maurice Montgomery will remember most is the "many, many years of hard work – and lots of caffeine!" that he credits for helping him get to this day. His residency in Anesthesiology at UMMC will keep him busy learning for another four years, but at least it will be more lucrative than medical school. "I'm finally getting a job with a paycheck and benefits," he said with a smile.

Michael E. Cryor, a member of the University of Maryland Board of Visitors and president of the Cryor Group, who was presented with the Dean's Distinguished Gold Medal for Public Service, challenged the graduates not to make those paychecks their priority. "As you practice medicine, I encourage you to also practice life," he told the newly minted doctors. "It is an extraordinary specialty. Be great doctors, but more importantly, be great to the world and make us a better place."

Dr. Collins believes this class will do just that. "At a time when many decry the deterioration of service to the community by medical students today compared to those in the past, you stand as a beacon saying, 'No, we're not interested in those material gains,' " he told them. "You're here because you want to serve. You want to reach out and do something for humanity. That is the mission of the profession you have chosen."

 Dean Reece presented guest speaker Francis Collins, MD, PhD (far left) and Michael Cryor with Distinguished Gold Medals for biomedical research and public service, respectively.

 Retiring Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Michael Plaut, PhD, who is also Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, was chosen as Mace bearer.

 Matthew Woodford (from left), Adetunji Williams and Christian Wright celebrate the end of medical school.

 Gregory Small was congratulated by his family and Mickey Foxwell, MD, Associate Dean for Admissions.

 Students honored Larry Anderson, PhD, professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, with a Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching.

 Family Medicine faculty turned out in full regalia to welcome their new colleagues.

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