35th Commencement: Week of Cheers, Tears for 120 Class of 2019 Members

Dr. Patrice Harris standing at a lecternDr. Patrice Harris, 35th Commencement keynote speaker

“Class of 2019: Talk it! Tell your story. Stand up for what you believe in and stand in your authentic voice.”

With those words from keynote speaker Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A., who in a few weeks will become the first African American woman ever selected as president of the American Medical Association, ringing in their ears, the 120 members of the Morehouse School of Medicine Class of 2019 took the first steps toward their futures as physicians, researchers and public health leaders.

The 35th Commencement ceremony May 18 highlighted a week of celebration for the entire MSM community: students, graduates, faculty, staff and alumni. On Wednesday, the Graduate Education in Biomedical Sciences program held its graduation celebration, recognizing achievements of MSM’s research master’s and doctoral degree graduates and faculty.

Thursday night President and Dean Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D., hosted MSM leaders and supporters along with visitors from the AMA in a joint reception in Dr. Harris’ honor.  On Friday, students, faculty and staff listened intently as Dr. Harris discussed her thoughts on leadership and advocacy in the health profession, along with tips on how to influence health policies while keeping the focus on patient care, with Dr. Montgomery Rice in the “Conversation of Significance” series.

  • Dr. Montgomery Rice cuts cake for Class Day 2019
  • Group awards for Class Day 2019
  • Military officers shake hands for Class Day 2019
  • A family walks across the stage for Class Day 2019

Class Day followed, recognizing student, faculty and staff excellence in academics, teaching, mentoring and advisement across-the GEBS, Master of Public Health and M.D. programs with the presentation of numerous achievement and scholarship awards; academic and professional honor society awards and recognition; acknowledgement of honorary class members; and commissioning of two students as military officers.

After enjoying social time at the President and Dean’s Reception following Class Day, students, faculty and staff reassembled for the “By These Healing Hands” ceremony. Created and led by Dr. Marvin Crawford, director of student education in the Department of Medicine, fourth-year M.D. students shed the short white coats received in their first year, exchanging them for the long version that symbolizes the next step in their journey to becoming practicing physicians. The students then pledge to uphold the social mission of healthcare through compassionate caring for the underserved and people throughout the world.

  • Dr. Montgomery Rice and Dr. Harris stand by a welcome poster
  • Dr. Harris talking on stage with Dr. Montgomery Rice
  • By These Healing Hands logo on background behind the speaker
  • Washing hands

Friday concluded off campus as the MPH program held its Family Day Gala highlighting the theme “Explore the World.”

Saturday was the big day, of course, as 73 M.D., 30 GEBS and 17 MPH graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. Following the ceremony at Morehouse College’s famed Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, graduates, family and friends returned to the MSM campus for a reception before heading off to their various celebrations.

The Morehouse School of Medicine National Alumni Association closed out the week with a standing-room only reunion reception and dinner, which included the naming of Dr. Carl V. Hill, ‘98, as 2019 MSMNAA Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. The reunion classes of 1989 (30th year), 1994 (25th), 1999 (20th), 2004 (10th) and 2014 (fifth) received special recognition during the dinner. Alumni toured the newly renovated second floor in the Hugh Gloster Building before ascending to the rooftop of the Billye Suber Aaron Pavilion for a jazz reception prior to dinner in the E. Ginger Sullivan Atrium in the Louis W. Sullivan National Center for Primary Care.