On Sunday, June 13th, 698 students representing 58 countries graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine at its 43rd annual Commencement Ceremony held at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York. This year’s graduating class marked the 8,925th Doctor of Medicine degree conferred by the University.
Provost Allen H. Pensick opened the ceremony with an introduction of the SGU faculty including Chancellor Charles R. Modica, and gave a special welcome to Her Excellency Dr. Dessima Williams, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations. On behalf of the people and the Government of Grenada, Dr. Williams congratulated the graduating class, which included five Grenada nationals, on their accomplishments. Dr. Williams drew a poignant comparison between the cultural diversity and number of countries represented at the United Nations (UN) and at St. George’s University (SGU).
Her Excellency spoke to them on earning the title ‘Doctor of the People’ in honor of Dr. David Lambert who was commonly referred to by that title. Dr. Lambert was a member of the SGU Basic Medical Sciences Faculty who died on January 27th, 2010. Ambassador Williams conveyed, “You are not just a doctor, you are a healer,” and urged them take their passion and love for medicine into their new careers.
Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University, acknowledged the importance the graduates had placed on their degree. He expressed, “I recognise the love and care and devotion a physician has … (and) look towards you as having those same qualities.” He took the opportunity to present Dr. Joseph Feldman, a graduate of the St. George’s University School of Medicine (’89), with the St. George’s University Medal of Merit for his exemplary service to the University community. Dr. Feldman is the Vice President of the SGUSOM Alumni Association and over the years had repeatedly demonstrated his care and concern through his continuous involvement with the University, Grenada, and the medical community.
Another special presentation, the Order of the Mace Award was bestowed upon Mr. Andy Belford, Director of Design and Project Management at St. George’s University. He is the 4th recipient of this prestigious award which is symbolic of the unique spirit of the University.
Other key moments of the ceremony included the conferral of the degrees on the graduates and the recital of the Hippocratic Oath – a universal rite of passage for all doctors, which was led by Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean, School of Medicine. Dr. Weitzman explained the significance of the oath and highlighted the key themes it contained. He reminded the graduates that medicine is as much an art as it is a science and they would be called upon to display professionalism, competence, knowledge, humanism, and sensitivity. “Medicine like all sciences changes rapidly and your real learning begins after this.”
Another highlight of the event was the induction of 24 SGUSOM graduates into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). The GHHS was established in 2002 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to foster and acknowledge humanism among medical students. The GHHS has been established at 47 US medical schools and three international medical schools since its inception. St. George’s University became one of the three in 2005.