Commencement 2016

by Laura Ferguson

Despite the many changes buffeting our health-care system, with new organizational and payment models constituting a matter of national discourse, speakers remained buoyant at the 124th commencement exercises for the School of Medicine and the 36th for the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

Dean Harris Berman termed it “an extraordinary time” to be entering the world of medicine. After thanking those friends and family members in attendance for their years of guidance and support, he reminded graduates of the basic truth—that they had chosen a career in medicine “to do good.” Their training and experience now had them poised to deliver on that promise and improve their patients’ health. “That is the real reward,” he suggested. “Savor it.”

Jared Wortzman, medical class president, began his remarks by telling the audience that “medical school is really hard,” a fact tempered by the close bonds and kinship of classmates. “We’re used to the support of others,” he said. “It’s all about the community.” Wortzman cited the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 as having been a formative experience for the class. “Our class came together at that moment,” he remembered, with classmates offering free housing and meals on social media for the many people affected by the tragedy and talking about the ethical questions raised by the possible need to treat the perpetrators.

He went on to cite the intense workload of third year, to appreciative laughter from his classmates, before apologizing to the wider audience for all the phone calls, birthdays and other special family events that everyone had been forced to miss as a consequence of the demands of their medical training. Wortzman ended on a light note. “Despite my mother having introduced me as ‘My son, the doctor’ since I was first admitted to medical school, after today we are all, in fact, doctors.”

Sackler School Dean Naomi Rosenberg had a sense of her school’s collective effort and accomplishment on her mind as she surveyed the audience. “We celebrate these wonderful graduates who have worked so hard, and also our faculty and staff who have given so much to help them reach this day,” she said. “You are entering a world that is more than ready for you,” she assured the graduates, “and you are ready for these challenges.”

Kevin Goncalves gave the Sackler student address. He spoke of how he had arrived at Tufts with expertise in the basic science involved in his studies, but then learned a great deal more from the exploratory culture of the place. “Science is not stationary,” he pointed out. “Great science involves knowing how to ask questions. A finding in our lab was not met with applause, but with the question, What’s next?”

With that spirit instilled in them, Goncalves told his classmates, “I am confident that together we will be part of revolutionizing science.”