Pinning Ceremony Marks Official Welcome to Medicine for Class of 2013

With proud parents, supportive friends, faculty and classmates watching from the audience, the Miller School formally welcomed the Class of 2013 to the medical profession. Following encouraging words from Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and a keynote address by Barth Green, M.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery and among the first to rush to Haiti after the recent earthquake, students in the 198-member class ascended the stage in pairs to be awarded the special pin.

“This milestone, named in honor of my esteemed predecessor, signals that you have almost completed your first year of study at the Miller School of Medicine,” Goldschmidt said Friday during the tenth annual John G. Clarkson Freshman Pinning Ceremony, named for the Dean Emeritus in 2006.

“You are officially today entering a very important family, the family of physicians who are graduates of the Miller School of Medicine, a strong and distinguished group. We are so proud of you. You have a pretty good sense of what it will take to become a physician— extremely hard work and focus and commitment—and no fun, and no sleep at night,” Goldschmidt continued, eliciting laughter from the students. “But we will do all we need to, to make sure that by the day we give you the diploma that tells society you are deemed responsible and educated to the point you can take care of the most precious asset of any human being – our health – we will say to society, ‘You can.’”

Dean Goldschmidt set the stage for Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, who spoke about his trips to Haiti after the devastating January 12 earthquake that destroyed the capital city, killing or injuring hundreds of thousands. Green has been providing medical care and training in Haiti for nearly two decades and advised the Class of 2013, which included 48 students from the Miller School at Florida Atlantic University, to remember to use medicine for the betterment of humanity.

“You are entering an amazing environment, an amazing universe where there is no limit to what you can do, to what the possibilities are,” Green said. “What a privilege it is to be able to heal people. What an amazing privilege.” After his speech, which included music and a Haiti photo montage slideshow, Green received a standing ovation.

As freshly pinned student Ami Vakharia and her parents sat down to the post-event dinner, she continued to reflect on Green’s words.

“He does such amazing work and we have big shoes to fill,” Vakharia said. “But this is the right place to learn. In only 10 months we have been exposed to so much at school and through community service projects. The medical school is preparing us to take care of all our communities.”

Vijay Vakharia, M.D., said he, too, was moved by the speech and was even prouder now that his daughter has followed his son in the study of medicine. “She is starting out at an interesting time,” he said. “She could take over my cardiology practice one day, but there are so many things that will be open to her.”

As words of congratulations rang out among the dozens of families, student Mark Barton said he was elated from walking across the stage. “We still have so much to learn but that moment gave me such a great feeling,” said Barton, whose mother Melanie and grandfather Jerry attended the event.

“He’s always been good about studying and I’m proud to see what he has accomplished,” Melanie Barton said. “We are all proud.”

Students helped to plan the ceremony under the leadership of Ian Bishop and Morgan Sendzischew. Robert S. Kirsner, M.D., professor and vice chair of dermatology and cutaneous surgery, was presented with the OSR Award and Ruth Schobel, M.D. ’81, president of the Medical Alumni Association, led the students in repeating the Oath of Geneva.

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