For a brief period of time, the cafeteria is quiet at noon, the garage is not full and you can park close to the door, and the workmen are putting away tables and mirrors and party items. Graduation is over for 2017.
The School of Medicine graduated one of its most accomplished classes last month. They came in at the top of their undergraduate game, they excelled while they were here, and they left for a spectacular group of residencies all over the country. They marched with enthusiasm, even when the rain overtook us when we moved from the Veale Center to Severance Hall. They simply put up their “alumbrellas” and walked away to claim their hoods and their diplomas.
In Severance Hall, their families cheered as they walked across the stage. Many of our faculty were honored to hood the students close to them. There were three rows of family hooders in the audience (relatives with the MD degree who were asked to hood their offspring, spouses, or cousins). A stray faculty member from the Weatherhead School watched his stepson graduate. One family unfurled a six-foot photo of their darling to complement the slide on the stage as she mounted the steps.
Our speaker, Victor Dzau, MD, President of the National Academy of Medicine, spoke to us about the truth. He pointed out that if we do not speak up for the truth, the consequences can be dire. Science is the search for truth, he said, and even if the truth contradicts our cherished hypothesis we must publish it and move from truth to truth. But more important, we must defend the truth. He spoke of communities where acceptance of the notion that vaccines cause autism has resulted in vaccination rates for children below those required to assure herd immunity. Outbreaks have occurred, and for children who are immunosuppressed, there have been deaths. Physicians must evaluate the evidence and speak truth. Combine this with the message from Fred Gray, renowned civil rights attorney and CWRU alumnus who spoke at the convocation ceremony: do the right thing. We had a ringing declaration of our responsibility as physicians and scientists. I think our students left inspired.
But leave they did, though some will return for residencies here in Cleveland, and some will return to us after a hiatus for training elsewhere. Godspeed, Class of 2017! We are so proud of you.