Graduation 2023

Photos by Rudy Diaz

The VP&S 2023 graduation on May 17 honored 140 students who received MD degrees and 77 students who received PhD degrees in biomedical sciences.

Atul Gawande, MD, assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, delivered the graduation address. Before his appointment to USAID, Dr. Gawande performed general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was on the faculty of Harvard’s medical and public health schools.

In his address, Dr. Gawande recounted the story of his father, who grew up in rural India and was inspired to become a physician after caring for his mother, who died of malaria. During his 50-year career in medicine, Dr. Gawande’s father saw major changes in medical practice, including new drugs, devices, and therapies and increased physician specialization.

“In medicine, the definition of what it means to win the game is ever-changing,” Dr. Gawande told the graduates. “The goal of a patient is individual and subject to modification. We all have hopes and fears and priorities beyond just living longer. Learning the goals that people have for their lives and using your everexpanding kit of tools to accomplish them is what it means to deliver care. It requires human caring and human creativity and expertise. Whatever you do in medicine, know that it evolves, but also know that you need to find your way to bring world class medicine to everyone.”

Much of the Class of 2023’s four years of medical school took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and VP&S Dean Katrina Armstrong, MD, said she hopes the graduates will use the lessons learned during the pandemic as they begin their careers. “You had a front row seat to the potential of science and medicine to make the world a better place and to the obstacles to realizing that potential. I ask you to remember what it felt like when you had your world disrupted overnight and to bring that to your work, with your patients, with your colleagues, and to your family, your loved ones, and everyone you encounter. So many are putting on a brave face every day, trying to hide the story they carry with them. Kindness and compassion can never be the wrong answer.”