Two of Haiti’s Health Care Heroes Honored as the Class of 2010 Graduates

With the Miller School’s extraordinary earthquake relief effort in Haiti a fitting backdrop, 155 students in the Class of 2010 received their medical degrees during commencement at the BankUnited Center on the Coral Gables campus Saturday night.

The ceremony highlighted the accomplishments of two humanitarians who have devoted their lives to serving and improving access to health care in Haiti. After a video presentation that documented the earthquake relief effort, University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala presented Barth Green, M.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery, with the prestigious President’s Medal for spearheading the Miller School’s heroic efforts in Haiti.

After a standing ovation, Green told the gathering, “What a privilege it has been to work for 35 years for an institution whose spiritual goal it is to serve the underserved no matter where they might be, and to work in a hospital with one standard of care for everyone.”

Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., who received an honorary degree, has dedicated his life to improving the delivery of health care to some of the poorest regions in the world, most notably in Haiti.

In his commencement speech to the graduates, Dr. Farmer gave them sound advice: “Choose a path of medicine that will give you personal satisfaction for decades and if you lose your passion, do not be afraid to strike out on something new.”

Citing the Miller School’s mission in Haiti, Farmer also asked the audience to “join me in thanking the University of Miami’s professionals who provided lifesaving care to thousands of injured Haitians in the aftermath of a devastating tragedy.”

In offering her best wishes to the new graduates, President Shalala made a prediction. “I celebrate that you will see universal health care in your lifetime as physicians, and you are so lucky to be able to see this come to fruition while you are practicing medicine.”

Student speaker Dan Cushman, M.D., relived the past four years with his classmates, and then made a very special thank you to all the parents in the audience on behalf of the Class of 2010. “Moms and dads you taught us well, you listened to us over the past four years, and we promise the complaining is over, until we begin our residencies!”

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D. told the students they were blessed to have two great humanitarians at the ceremony “who are tremendous role models for the type of physician each of you can be.”

And he reminded all of them to “remember, from this day forward, life will no longer be just about you and your loved ones, but it will be about the patients you will encounter, those people who will put their trust and well being in your hands.”

Watch a video of the 2010 Miller School Commencement Ceremony.

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