More Than 900 Graduates Bestowed MDs at 2015 Commencement

Newest Crop of St. George’s University Physicians Represents 41 Countries

At the 40th St. George’s University School of Medicine commencement ceremony on June 17, more than 900 students were conferred Doctor of Medicine degrees at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The Class of 2015 represents 41 countries, including 39 US states, the newest physicians joining more than 12,000 SGU graduates who have been licensed to practice medicine in more than 50 countries around the world.

“When we first met you at your White Coat Ceremony in Grenada, we felt that each and every one of your had the capability and capacity to fulfill your dreams,” said Dr. Charles R. Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “You persevered, you stood fast, you studied hard, and you didn’t let go, and as a result, here you are. We are very proud to be here with you today, and know that you will continue to make a difference in health care.”

Although commencement marked the end of one chapter in their journey, Allen Pensick, St. George’s University Provost, encouraged the graduates to use it as a foundation for the rest of their medical careers.

“Today is a celebration of you now being equipped with the basic skills that you will need for the world you are entering,” Dr. Pensick said. “It’s up to you to continue learning to keep pace with the rapidly changing world around us. You must demonstrate your ability to learn in the fields that you choose. Today is about recognizing the ability to embrace the opportunities that are ahead of you.”

Mohammed Elshorafa, MD SGU ’15, is excited for what lies ahead. He will begin a child neurology residency at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System this summer. He reveled in the moment with his family outside Lincoln Center.

“It’s more than just four years; it’s an entire life building up to this one moment,” Dr. Elshorafa. “It’s great to be here with family because they were right there with me every step of the way. There were some ups and downs, but it was an amazing experience to live and study in Grenada, and that we’re here at this point is just overwhelming.”

For Parker Jenkins, MD SGU ’15, the SGU experience has very much been a family affair as well. His wife, Ashley, earned her MD from SGU in 2013 and is now completing her residency in internal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center Mountainside. Originally from Denham Springs, LA, Dr. Jenkins and his family, including daughter Jolee and Job, spent two years in Grenada during his basic science training.

“I learned a lot about medicine and a lot about patient care, and moreover, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m capable of,” Dr. Jenkins said. “I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and to have had my family with me to experience it.”

Astha Muttreja, MD SGU ’15, and Amika Bahri, MD SGU ’15, became friends through SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which students spend the first year of their studies at Northumbria University in Newcastle, United Kingdom. Dr. Muttreja returns home to begin an internal medicine residency at Stony Brook University, and Dr. Bahri will do the same, starting her family medicine residency at the University of Toronto.

“Stony Brook Hospital is great, so I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Dr. Muttreja said. “It’s such a blessing. There were times where you weren’t sure if you were going to make it, so to be standing here is amazing.”

“That we were able to experience three different health care systems over the course of our medical education was really invaluable,” Dr. Bahri said. “Getting to go back home was something I only dreamed about when started school at SGU, so to have it all work out in the end means everything to me.”

Before conferring Doctors of Medicine to the graduating class, SGU presented Honorary Doctorates of Human Letters to two American pioneers – Ellen Ratner and James Pinkerton. Dr. Ratner has been a longtime supporter of SGU, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF). She founded the non-profit organization Goats for the Old Goat, aimed at helping families in need in South Sudan. Dr. Pinkerton has been a political commentator, columnist, and White House advisor since the early 1980s, and serves as a member of the board of the Institute for Human Virology (IHV). In addition, he is an advocate for the Cure Strategy, a platform to encourage public policies that advance medical innovation and the development of lifesaving treatments.