A feeling of celebration and accomplishment filled the air in the majestic grand hall of Carnegie Hall as New York Medical College’s 158th Commencement exercises got underway—with all the expected pomp and circumstance delighting students, faculty and guests who filled the hall’s five tiers to capacity. On May 24, the College awarded 206 doctor of medicine (M.D.) degrees, 37 doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) degrees, 3 doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, 61 master of science (M.S.) degrees, 85 master of public health (M.P.H.) degrees and 3 doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) degrees. The audience of family, friends and distinguished guests gathered to observe the proceedings, providing cheers, applause and standing ovations throughout the course of the evening. View the 158th Commencement Week Activities photo gallery. Pre-commencement celebrations were held before the main event by the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences and the School of Health Sciences and Practice.
Mace bearer Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., M.P.H., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, led the traditional processional of academic leaders, faculty and distinguished guests on to the stage. Grand Marshal John T. Pellicone, M.D., associate dean for medical education and chief medical officer at NYMC Health + Hospitals/ Metropolitan and assistant professor of medicine, declared, “The New York Medical College Commencement is now in session.”
NYMC’s own student A cappella group, The Arrhythmias, led the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, followed by remarks by Lydia Bunker, School of Medicine Class of 2017. “We will be making decisions that affect the lives of our patients…It can be frightening, but it’s exhilarating too, because this is the work we were meant to do; the service to which we have dedicated our lives,” she told her classmates.
Robert M. Califf, M.D., followed, delivering the evening’s commencement address. Dr. Califf, one of the nation’s most well-regarded physicians in academic medicine and a preeminent innovator in clinical evidence generation, shared a vision for the future of medicine in his speech, Adapting to the Digital World. The theme of his address was the information revolution in medicine, and its “remarkable potential…to make our lives, and the lives of our patients, better.” He spoke of the role of information technology in addressing societal challenges such as deepening health disparities, and told the audience that the medical profession must address these challenges by adapting the information revolution—not accepting systems that distract from patients, but rather, “demanding systems that allow us to come closer to our patients, sharing evidence and strategies with them.” Dr. Califf, formerly the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a pioneer and an international expert in translational science, recently joined Verily, Google’s life sciences company. He spoke of a ground-breaking health technology study recently announced by Google with Duke and Stanford Universities, part of what Dr. Califf characterized as “amazing opportunities to improve quality of life and function and even cure disease for Americans.”
The presentation of the candidates saw each of the graduates personally called to the stage to receive their diplomas. The ceremony also included the commissioning of five graduates of the School of Medicine as medical officers of the U.S. Navy and Air Force. They were inducted by Colonel Troy Prairie, M.D., chief, primary care department, West Point Health Service Area in West Point, N.Y. Earlier in the day, before Commencement ceremonies began, a traditional military “pinning” ceremony was held in Carnegie Hall’s Rose Museum. As Colonel Prairie officiated and parents, siblings and invited guests watching, the military graduates were each “pinned” with an additional stripe or insignia on their uniforms to officially recognize their change in rank as a medical school graduate.
Francis Belloni, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Basic Medical Science, was awarded a special proclamation from the Board of Trustees recognizing his retirement from his deanship, a role he has held since 1997.
As the commencement ceremonies drew to a close, Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, concluded the ceremony with the “Charge to the Class of 2017.” "We arrive at this day together; in partnership. We are proud of what we have jointly achieved,” he said. He then wished the graduates, “Godspeed on your journey, ladies and gentlemen.”