The White Coat Ceremony was underway, and St. George’s University alumni Nina Kayeum, MD SGU ’90, and her husband Paul Capelli, MD SGU ’90, sat front and center. Nearly three decades since earning their own degrees, they were there to support their daughter, Trina, on her big day—the first step in her own path to becoming a physician.
“I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed,” said Dr. Kayeum, an internal medicine specialist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me over 30 years ago that I would be coming to St. George’s not only to pursue my dream of medicine but that I would find my partner in life and then have a daughter who would also come here to pursue the same dream. I can’t thank SGU and the people of Grenada enough—they’ve basically shaped my future.”
Dr. Kayeum was later welcomed on stage to coat her daughter, who joined her Fall 2017 classmates in taking the Oath of Professional Commitment. Donning their white coats, the Class of 2021 joined its fellow students from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom two weeks prior.
“Having my mom put on my white coat was very emotional for me,” said Trina Capelli. “I feel both humbled and blessed to be here to have this opportunity not only to pursue my dream but to be following in both my parents’ footsteps. I decided very early on that I wanted to become a doctor and although I had different options of where I could attend medical school, growing up hearing stories about SGU and it being a part of my family’s history, I almost felt a calling to go here. I believe this is where I am meant to be.”
Delivering a very personal and energetic keynote address was Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, Chair and Professor of Family Medicine at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine for Northwell Health in New York. She counseled the newly enrolled medical students that “with knowledge comes responsibility and accountability.” They were now taking on a major social responsibility, and with it a unique privilege that society bestows upon them as part of donning the white coat.
Echoing this sentiment was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Dr. Tita Castor, MD SGU ’88, Medical Director of Palliative Care Service, NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“This coat is laden with meaning,” she said. “With this coat, you will have the privilege and the burden of being part of people’s lives during their happiest and saddest moments, hearing their deepest hopes, fears, and secrets.”
In addition, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies punctuated the first full day of activities of the University’s Beyond Spice Family Weekend. A customary element to each term in Grenada, students and family members get to soak up nature and culture on the Spice Isle prior to attending the special ceremony that marks their induction into the medical profession.