I never used to like
graduations. To me, they always marked an ending, an ending for many close
relationships developed over the time together. It marked a time when you should
be ‘getting‑on’ with your life; going out into the ‘real‑world’; a time when all
of your friends would be leaving to pursue their lives and careers.
I now know that
graduation in not an ending, but a beginning. It marks not the end of
relationships, but chances to make new ones. We should build upon those
friendships forged here; not forget them. And, believe it or not, you have
already been in a ‘real world.’ You have been running your own business over
these past years... You have been dealing with deadlines; with money management;
with time management. The final product of which, is you.
Our years here at Wayne
State started out fairly benign. We met at orientation, picked up our first set
of notes. In hindsight, I realize that I had absolutely no clue what I was
getting into. My first shock was when I almost threw my back out picking up the
Gross Anatomy was a bit
of a shock too... that smell... how it stuck to your books, your clothes,
everything. Try as you might, you could not escape it. It had a life of its
Histology, Biochemistry, Physiology... all those slides of tissues, enzymes, and
pathways made us dizzy, but we learned it. We thought, “how can much of this
really apply to the practice of medicine?”
We all thought second
year was going to be better than first year, right? More clinically relevant
material? True, it was, but we also found out that they were taking it easy on
us during first year. Now was the time to get down to some serious studying, in
preparation for the upcoming Boards.
Ah... Studying for
boards... What fond memories... how calm we all were. How well prepared we
found ourselves. More than once had I thought of putting Valium into the
water supply. We were insane! Every year, classes ahead look back on upcoming
classes and think were we that anal retentive?’ They try to think not, but
they were. Stressed or not, we were all happy to be done with Boards.
Third year was fun. We
got a chance to get out and actually do’ things. Even though these things we
got to do’ usually ended up being rectals... We found out the real meaning of
the phrase things roll downhill.’
Fourth year, finally!
You’re on top of the world! Now was your time to decide what you wanted to do
with your life. What field will it be? Some of us knew long ago. Some of us
still don’t know. Whatever the choice, we got down to the job of applying for
residencies, then interviewing, then submitting our match lists to finally find
out what and where we would be going. Well, now we know.
In hindsight, it seems
that these four years of school flew by. (Although I seem to recall that those
months on surgery didn’t seem to fly!) We experienced a lot. We laughed
together. We cried together. We cursed our pathophysiology together. All of
our time was planned out for us. Now it is up to us to make our way.
Words of advice? There
are so many I would like to give you. Never lose your compassion. Never see a
patient just as a disease, a race, a sexual orientation, but as a person. The
measure of your skill rests not only in your mind, but in your heart. I think
they all boil down to one common theme: “Be the best you can be at whatever you
do, and in doing so you will make the world greater.”
Throughout my years I
have told several motivational stories, most notably is one we affectionately
call the Starfish Story,’ which deals with individuals making a difference in
lives, no matter how small. Today I would like to share a bit of Ralph Waldo
Emerson’s sage advice on success:
“To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn
the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to
appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden path, or a redeemed social condition; to
know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have
A few minutes ago, a
transformation took place. We stood up, walked across this stage, received a
diploma, and walked down those stairs—Forever changed.
While all moms, dads,
husbands, wives, kids, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and
friends looked on, they saw a brand new person. You went from a student of this
university to a student of life, ready and wanting to meet the future.
As I look out into your
faces, I wish there were words that could express the pride I feel in seeing
every one of you, knowing that you will soon be going out into that world and
succeeding like no one before.
I would like to
introduce Dr. Carl Christensen, Associate Professor, Department of
Obstetrics/Gynecology, to administer the oath to our Class. (Pause)...Dr.
Christensen. (Shake hands).