Dr. Montgomery Rice Encourages Graduates to ‘Master the Middle’ and to Not Fear Failure


Students may find themselves at a crossroads at various times in their educational careers. Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D. gave graduates at Georgia Tech advice on how to navigate these periods and “master the middle” at the school’s commencement ceremony for master’s students on Friday, May 4 in Atlanta. Dr. Montgomery Rice, a 1983 graduate of Georgia Tech, shared how she chose to challenge herself beyond the route of taking a good, comfortable job, by reaching for higher goals and making a lasting impact. She encouraged the graduates to move beyond the middle as they move on to the next phase of their lives, and to let the pleasure from mastering their middle guide them through their lives.

“By figuring out what I didn’t want to be, I found out what I could be, I found my passion,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice to the graduates. “My love for math and science led me to Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech, through its rigors, gave me the courage to say ‘no’ and explore the possibility of ‘yes.’ And I found medicine and was able to build the bridge to my passion of caring for people, using discovery and technology as a source for always seeing what’s possible. It is my passion that leads me to the joy I experience in doing my life work.”

Just days earlier at Chicago’s Rush University, Dr. Montgomery Rice asked graduates what they would do if they knew they could not fail.

“Imagine my soon to be colleagues, the challenges you have turned into opportunities,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice as she addressed the 800 students during the school’s 46th commencement ceremony. “The number of times you have been knocked down and have gotten up, the resilience that has taken you to overcome the challenges, and the honor you are being granted will extend your personal and medical knowledge to assist others in realizing their optimal level of health. And yes, indeed, health equity. Because for you, failure was never an option. Just a challenge to make you work harder.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Montgomery Rice received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Rush shares MSM’s mission of advancing primary care, serving the underserved, and working with the community to achieve health equity.

“With that as your mission and values, you are destined to make significant contributions,” said Dr. Montgomery Rice. “You need only to dig deep and ask yourself daily, what you can do to make a difference.”


Valerie Montgomery Rice speaks at Georgia Tech