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NYMC Celebrates the Class of 2023 at 164th Commencement Exercises

The NYMC Campus Buzzed with Excitement for a Three-day Commencement Celebration

May 29, 2023
NYMC Commencement 2023 program on pink flowers.

View the photos and highlights video.

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

The celebratory week commenced with Jan Geliebter, Ph.D., professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology and associate professor of otolaryngology, bearing the ceremonial mace, which dons the portrait of NYMC founder William Cullen Bryant. Grand Marshal Victor G. Garcia, Ph.D. ’16, assistant professor of pharmacology, led the program and commencement awards. Recognizing academic excellence and achievement were presented by Marina K. Holz, Ph.D., dean of GSBMS.

Student speaker, Elizabeth Berry, Ph.D. ’23, left her fellow classmates with advice to enjoy the journey no matter the destination, as she recalled arriving to NYMC pursuing her master’s and leaving with her doctorate.

“As we graduate today, we embark on the next chapter of our lives. Some of us will go on to obtain another degree,” said Dr. Berry. “Some will work at universities and colleges, hospitals and go into industry – the possibilities are endless. And yet no matter where we end up, we all leave NYMC better prepared to contribute to discovering new science, better methods of patient care, science policy, communication, etc.”

Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor, chief executive officer and interim dean of the SOM, introduced the GSBMS commencement speaker Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., Marilyn M. Simpson Professor, The Rockefeller University investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and director of the Starr Foundation Center for Human Genetics, who spoke about overcoming obstacles that can be defining moment.

“I consider it highly likely that you will at some point along the way face some significant adversity,” said Dr. Friedman. “How well you do in life will have as much to do with how you manage that adversity and power your way through it as any of the other talents you bring forward into your careers.” 

Dr. Halperin followed with conferring the degrees of the GSBMS students and Dr. Holz happily presented the diplomas to the graduates.

School of Medicine

The following day, SOM graduates were radiant with their tassels dangling from their tams as they entered the tent and were greeted by their loved ones and roaring applause. The trail of leadership and faculty were led by mace bearer Lori A. Weir Solomon, M.D. ‘99, M.P.H. ‘09, clinical associate professor of family and community medicine and director of the Family Health Center. 

Grand Marshal Renee Garrick, M.D., vice dean and professor of clinical medicine, led the proceedings that began with an invocation by Rabbi Baruch Fogel. 

Selected by his classmates Ian Mason, M.D. ‘23, approached the podium and delivered the student address. He reflected on the trials and tribulations his class went through during the beginning of their time at the College during the COVID-19 pandemic and the camaraderie of classmates.

“Look to your left and to your right,” said Dr. Mason. “Appreciate those that sat next to you as you took the first step in growing into the physician you are going to be proud of becoming. As we depart, take care of each other. Be there for one another. We now share the same cloth and medicine will always be part of us. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”

Alan Kadish, M.D., president of Touro University and NYMC, welcomed SOM’s commencement speaker Machelle H. Allen, M.D., senior vice president and deputy chief medical officer of NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation. Dr. Allen spoke about finding her purpose in medicine.

“Optimism is a choice,” Dr. Allen said. “And to commemorate the NBA playoffs, play hard in the paint with defiance and resilience. If you fail along the way, get up and dust yourself off because good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.”

Dr. Kadish returned to the stage with advice to the soon-to-be doctors about work-life balance before conferring the degrees for the future physicians. While Dr. Halperin administered the Hippocratic Oath.

“Rather viewing work and life as two distinct poles, view work as a part of what we’re here for,” said Dr. Kadish. “And of course, your need to spend time for yourself, but through your work in the great profession of being a physician, you use that time to develop yourself personally, but more importantly to give back to society and particularly those members of society who are most in need of it.”

Following the administration of the Hippocratic Oath by Dr. Halperin, the military oath of office was given by Mill Etienne, M.D. ‘02, M.P.H., FAAN, FAES, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, associate dean for student affairs, and associate professor of neurology and medicine, to Jessica Sensbach, M.D. ’23, and David Yacynych, M.D. ’23, who were promoted to Captain in the United States Army.

School of Health Sciences and Practice

The momentum continued as SHSP graduates celebrated their entrance into the fields of speech-language pathology, physical therapy and public health. Mace bearer Vikas Grover, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, chief and associate professor in the Division of Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, led the way of the procession, while performer and SHSP’s very own Sari Koppel, M.S. ‘23, performed the National Anthem. Jena Schoenherr, D.P.T. ‘23 advised her class to push the boundaries of what’s possible. “Today, you stand at the threshold of a new beginning,” said Dr. Schoenherr. “One that is filled with endless possibilities, opportunities and challenges. I want you to remember that your journey does not end here. This degree is not the end of your education but rather the beginning of a lifelong journey of growth, exploration and discovery.”

Dr. Halperin then took the stage and introduced SHSP commencement speaker Ann Kurth, Ph.D., RN, CNM, MPH, FAAN, FACNM, president of the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), the first epidemiologist to head NYAM in its 175-year history who remarked on the importance of the students entering public health today.

“Know that even at your most unseen and under supported you are the backbone of our public health infrastructure – a lifeline to those at the crossroads, a human who cares,” Dr. Kurth said. “Return to this knowledge the importance of your path your career commitment from origin to endpoint, hopefully many decades from now, at the times you feel less inspired.”

Dr. Halperin conferred the degrees of the SHSP students, while Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., presented the diplomas to the Class of 2023 and sent them on their way to a new chapter in their lives.

Following the end of each ceremony, Dr. Halperin left the newly minted NYMC alumni with a charge and parting words.

“While you have been with us, we have strived to impart both values and knowledge because wisdom occurs at the confluence of knowledge and values,” said Dr. Halperin. “We confidently send you forth well prepared for the challenges posed by your respective disciplines.  As you go forward, I charge you to commit yourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards, to render to all people 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 – as we will proudly remember you.”

Graduates and their loved ones celebrated on the lush NYMC campus with big smiles on their faces and cameras in-hand to capture this moment forever.