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NYMC Honors the Class of 2024 at 165th Commencement Ceremonies

Graduates Excitedly Anticipate Their Future Careers in the Health Sciences

May 28, 2024
Dr. Edward C. Halperin at the podium for commencement.
Leadership, faculty, and loved ones gathered to honor the Class of 2024, as they celebrate their accomplishments and look forward to their careers in the health sciences.

School of Health Sciences and Practice  

The festivities began with Douglas L. York, M.P.H. ’91, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of public health, bearing the ceremonial mace, which incorporates a portrait of NYMC founder William Cullen Bryant, as SHSP graduates celebrated their entrance into the fields of speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and public health. Grand Marshal Monica McHenry, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, professor of speech-language pathology, led the program with opening remarks before Rabbi Baruch Fogel, adjunct assistant professor of clinical biomedical humanities and ethics, delivered the invocation.   
Student commencement speaker Abby Cofsky, M.P.H. ‘24, shared wisdom from her career change from corporate management to public health and reflected on starting at NYMC during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Embrace every step of your zig-zag, unpredictable journey,” said Cofsky. “Life paths aren’t supposed to be straight lines. Even our missed steps, dead ends, and our losses lead us to other places. It all gets added to our experience banks and makes us broader, deeper, more colorful people.”  

Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of SHSP, vice president of government affairs, and professor of pediatrics and public health, took the stage and introduced SHSP commencement speaker James V. McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., health commissioner for the New York State Department of Health, who spoke to the graduates about finding and maintaining joy in their careers.   

“As you graduate today, whether you’re helping people walk and talk, whether you’re helping people prevent problems, whether you’re finding data that shows us where we’re going, I hope you recognize the power of passion that is yours to find,” said Dr. McDonald. “I hope you find a purpose in your work and realize it’s often not about you, it’s about your other-oriented mission that will endure you throughout your career.”  

Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, conferred the degrees of the SHSP students, while Dr. Amler presented the diplomas to the Class of 2024 and sent them on their way to a new chapter in their lives.  

School of Medicine  

The energy kept buzzing as SOM graduates paraded in with their tassels swaying and their tams tilting, soaking in the cheers and applause from their excited loved ones. Leadership and faculty were led by mace bearer Michael H. Gewitz, M.D., professor and vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics.  Grand Marshal Christa N. Grant, M.D., clinical associate professor of surgery and pediatrics, led the proceedings that began with an invocation by Rabbi Moshe Krupka, M.S., executive vice president of Touro University.   
Ashley Sacks, M.D. ‘24, proudly delivered the student address. “What I hope for our class is that we use our knowledge not as an endpoint for our thought processes, but as a foundation upon which we build new questions, we push back against the norms, and we lean into the discomfort of doubt,” said Dr. Sacks. “Medicine is beautiful because it is constantly in motion –   sometimes, that what makes it so challenging – but it forces us to stay on our toes and continuously ask ourselves – can we find ways to do procedures with less harm, to evaluate labs with less bias, to treat our patients with the absolute highest standard of care – and throughout all of that – can we do so with compassion and with kindness?”  
Dr. Halperin welcomed SOM’s commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient of the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, Steven L. Kanter, M.D., executive director of the Alliance of Academic Health Centers International and special advisor to the president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges and executive director of Alliance of Academic Health Centers International. He remarked about the advent of the new phase of the new doctors’ lives. “Always remember that providing health care is only one aspect of being a physician,” said Dr. Kanter. “As physicians, we are healers, helpers, carers, advocates for the sick, and advocates for the help of all. And we do this as we strive to be ever wiser scientists and humanists.”  
Alan Kadish, M.D., president of NYMC and Touro University, took to the podium to offer advice for the future physicians, who persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing and ever-evolving role of artificial intelligence in medicine, and upheaval in American society, before conferring the degrees for the future physicians. “I urge each of you to not lose focus on the fact that as physicians, you have a unique privilege and responsibility to continue to work to make the lives of your patients and the science we all hold dear better despite those distractions,” said Dr. Kadish.  
Following the administration of the Hippocratic Oath by Neil W. Schluger, dean of the SOM and professor of medicine, 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 U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Briana Comuniello, M.D.’ 24, and U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Bardia Khandehroo, M.D. ’24, were promoted to captain.  

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences  

The celebrations continued for the GSBMS graduates with Julie S. Di Martino, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology and anatomy, bearing the ceremonial mace. Grand Marshal Chioma M. Okeoma, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, led the program before an invocation by Rabbi Fogel. Recognizing academic excellence and achievement, awards were presented by Marina K. Holz, Ph.D., M.P.H. ‘23, dean of GSBMS, professor of cell anatomy and biology, and interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  
Student speaker Tara Jarboe, M.S. ‘19, Ph.D. ‘24, reflected on her time at the College, highlighting her collaborative experiences with faculty and students in the lab. She also offered her classmates insightful advice for the numerous paths they will pursue after graduation. “Congratulations to all of my fellow graduates in the master’s and Ph.D. programs,” said Dr. Jarboe. “Congratulations on this major milestone for all of us and my most heartfelt wishes for us to continue ahead on the path that keeps your passion for science alive.”  

Dr. Halperin took to the podium to bestow an honorary Doctor of Science degree on former SOM dean Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, associate chief of staff for research at Northern California VA Health System, recognizing his visionary leadership, dedication to advancing medicine, and remarkable contributions in diabetes research.   
Dr. Holz then introduced the GSBMS commencement speaker Brooke Grindlinger, Ph.D., renowned microbiologist and chief scientific officer at The New York Academy of Sciences, who spoke about the ability of the graduates to emphasize real-world impact with their new degrees in biomedical sciences. “Your unique experiences and viewpoints are unmatched,” said Grindlinger. “So, embrace boldness in your ideas, cultivate a strong viewpoint, seize control of your professional journey, and fearlessly stand out.”  

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

Touro College of Dental Medicine  

The TCDM Class of 2024 dental students marched down the aisles of SUNY Purchase waving to their proud family and friends. Bert Goldfinger, D.D.S., director of preclinical education, co-director of professional licensure examinations, and associate professor of dental medicine, commenced the program as mace bearer, with an invocation by Rabbi Krupka following afterwards.  

Aaron Yancoskie, D.D.S., assistant dean for academic affairs, director of oral medicine, and associate professor of dental medicine, welcomed commencement speaker Prabha Krishnan, D.D.S., president elect of the New York State Dental Association, who emphasized the impact of dentistry beyond the smile.   
“Your patients may forget what brought them to see you in the first place,” said Dr. Krishnan. “They may forget the procedure you performed to alleviate their pain. Yet, what they will remember is whether you put them first. Did you listen to them? Did you earn their trust? And did you protect it? These are the qualities that will take you from good to great.”  
Dr. Kadish conferred the degree of D.D.S. for the Class of 2024, as Ronnie Myers, D.D.S., dean of TCDM and professor of dental medicine, presented the candidates.  
After each ceremony concluded, Dr. Halperin imparted a meaningful charge and shared parting words with the newly graduated NYMC and TCDM alumni.   

“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 us with pride – as we will proudly remember you,” said Dr. Halperin . 

Amidst the cheers and laughter, the air was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and camaraderie as graduates basked in the company of their cherished families and friends, posing for photos to immortalize this milestone achievement.  

Videos of the NYMC 165th Commencement Ceremonies and other NYMC events are available on the NYMC Youtube Channel, as well as TCDM videos, including Commencement, on the TCDM Youtube Channel.

View the photos of the NYMC 165th Commencement Ceremonies and the TCDM Commencement Ceremony.