NYMC Celebrates the Class of 2022 at 163rd Commencement Exercises
Commencement Returned To An In-Person Celebration For The First Time In Two Years
Cheers filled the tent behind Sunshine Cottage on May 24, 25 and 26, as members of the Class of 2022 shared in the celebration of the culmination of their time at New York Medical College (NYMC), as the pomp and circumstance of commencement returned to an in-person setting for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Separate ceremonies took place in order to be able to accommodate nearly 1,900 guests who took in the lush green space and beauty of the Valhalla campus which was in full bloom.
The three ceremonies—the School of Health Sciences and Practice (SHSP) and Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences (GSBMS) on May 24, the Touro College of Dental Medicine at NYMC on May 25, and the School of Medicine (SOM) on May 26—conferred 594 degrees to the Class of 2022, including 218 doctor of medicine (M.D.) degrees, 42 doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) degrees, four doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, 120 master of science(M.S.) degrees, 103 master of public health (M.P.H.) degrees, two doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) degrees and 105 doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) degrees.
Leading up to the commencement ceremonies, other events celebrated the hard work and achievements of the Class of 2022 including awards and hooding events for the SHSP and GSBMS and awards presentation for the SOM. On May 25, two SOM students in the Class of 2022 were commemorated at a military pinning ceremony at United States Military Academy at West Point. Isidora Monteparo, a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force who secured a residency in radiology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Daniel Bowen, an ensign in the United States Navy who matched to a residency in psychiatry at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, took the the military oath of office.
True to tradition, the SHSP and GSBMS ceremony began with Dana Mordue, Ph.D., vice chancellor of accreditiation and academic support, associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology, and secretary of the Faculty Senate, bearing the ceremonial mace which dons the portrait of NYMC founder, William Cullen Bryant. Grand Marshal Padmini Murthy, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., FAMWA, FRSPH, professor and global health director in the SHSP, offered the opening remarks to the commencement.
Student speaker, Catherine D’Addario, Ph.D. ’22, addressed her classmates reflecting on the students’ experiences throughout their time at NYMC, such as making memories with her classmates or their collective struggle of researching and honing their skills as the COVID-19 pandemic continued on.
“We all shared a unique set of challenges posed to us throughout the pandemic. Many of us did not have the traditional schooling we were accustomed to and had to quickly adjust to these challenging, but we made it work,” Ms. D’Addario said. “We can look back at all of our achievements here at NYMC, despite the challenges, and use them as encouragement for ourselves. From here on out for us, the sky is the limit.”
Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the SHSP and vice president for government affairs, introduced the ceremony’s commencement speaker, Sherlita Amler, M.D, M.S, R.N., Ed.S., C.E.M., Commissioner of Health in Westchester County, adjunct professor of public health, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, and senior fellow in the Center for Disaster Medicine. Dr. Sherlita Amler spoke from her more than four decades of experience as a public health professional including the last two amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The future health of our people will depend in part on you and your professional colleagues. Some of you will go on to develop new procedures, treatments and preventive strategies,” Dr. Amler said. “Never in our shared history has the work you have prepared for been more vital. My fondest wish for you is that find professional and personal fulfillment using the tools you’ve acquired here, while making this world a healthier place.”
Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, then conferred the degrees of the SHSP and GSBMS students.
A particularly poignant moment, came when Surbhi Arora, a M.P.H. candidate in the Class of 2022, was posthumously awarded her Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) in Health Behavior and Community Health after she died after battling muscular dystrophy. The NYMC Board of Trustees voted to award the degree, which will be sent to Ms. Arora’s family in India.
The SOM commencement began with equal excitement and anticipation, as the procession was led by the ceremonial mace bearer, Patric K. Stanton, professor of cell biology and anatomy and Grand Marshal Karen Murray, M.D. ’99, associate dean for admissions for the SOM and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr. Murray introduced the a capella group, the Arrythmias, who sang the National Anthem, followed by the invocation given by Rabbi Moshe Krupka, M.S., executive vice president of Touro University and opening remarks by Joseph Mark, chair of the Board of Trustees.
“Your academic achievements, dedication and desire to make the world a better place may bring you to some far-off, wonderful places, but we hope you always remain close in heart and in spirit to New York Medical College,” said Mr. Mark.
“Today our hearts are filled with pride and joy as we gaze upon you, the graduates, and grasp the talent, scholarship, achievement and promise that you represent,” Rabbi Krupka said.
Selected by her classmates, Rebecca Nguyen, M.D. ’22, addressed her class speaking about the importance of having people by one’s side when progressing through medical school, whether that be encouragement by friends or fellow classmates lifting each other up.
“I want to thank my classmates for making so many difficult experiences more bearable through your knowledge, your kindness and your memes,” Ms. Nguyen said. “I invite you to take a deep breath, look around you and take this moment for yourself.”
Alan Kadish, M.D., president of Touro University, offered words of encouragement to the graduates, saying that their unique experience in medical school during the pandemic will help them in the uncertainties that may come their way during their career.
“If there’s one word that I would suggest characterizes your experience in medical school and what it took to succeed in these difficult times, it would be resilience,” Dr. Kadish said. “I think the skills you acquired not just in medicine, but dealing with the unknown and whatever comes your way are things that will serve you well in healthcare and life in the years to come."
Dr. Kadish then introduced the SOM commencement’s speaker, award-winning scientist and executive, Albert Bourla, D.V.M., Ph.D., chair and chief executive officer of Pfizer. Dr. Bourla has received various accolades for his work leading Pfizer, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bourla spoke about the monumental task of developing an effective vaccine in a time span that would shatter previous records, and how it took an ambitious mindset to achieve it.
“At Pfizer, we referred to the development of our COVID-19 vaccine as a moonshot–a term shorthand for reaching big, for pursuing aspirational and difficult ventures. Today I challenge you to pursue your own moonshot. To ask yourself how you can achieve something no one else has done before,” Dr. Bourla said. “I encourage each one of you to aim high, higher than you can ever imagine. If at first you miss, don’t lower the target. Keep aiming high because when you hit, the reward will be great; for you and for the people that are dependent on you.
Dr. Kadish then conferred the degrees for the medical students, before Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, dean of the SOM and professor of medicine and of pharmacology initiated the hooding and conferral of the degrees and administered the Hippocratic Oath.
Dr. Halperin offered the closing remarks for both ceremonies, charging the students to go forward as competent, compassionate health care professionals.
“We confidently send you forth, well-prepared for the challenges posed by your respective disciplines,” Dr. Halperin said. “As you go forward, I charge you to commit yourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards, to render to each person the dignity that is rightfully theirs, to remember that you are stewards of the connected human family, to be compassionate to those in need and to remember with pride New York Medical College and Touro University, as we will proudly remember you.”
The NYMC community rejoiced as students, faculty and loved ones were finally able to observe commencement in-person, as the achievements of the Class of 2022 were celebrated with traditional pageantry.