The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) celebrated the newest class of graduating doctors and their dedication, resilience, compassion, and commitment to making a difference through medicine during the Class of 2023 Doctor of Medicine Commencement Ceremony held on May 12, 2023, at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts.
The event commenced with an introduction by Dr. Tim Baker, UNR Med Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Renown Health Vice President for Education. Dr. Baker warmly welcomed the distinguished guests, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and friends who had gathered in person and virtually to commemorate this significant milestone in the 58 graduates’ lives.
“This is a celebration not only of our students’ achievements but also a testament of your love, encouragement, and support that made this day possible for our graduates,” Dr. Baker said.
Amidst the crowd of proud faculty, staff, family members, and friends, a series of speakers recognized the graduates for their ability to overcome hurdles that tested the limits of their endurance. From the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to the rigorous demands of medical education, the speakers highlighted the indomitable spirit of these budding medical professionals, who will act as beacons of hope for a brighter future.
“Medicine has seen in you the ability to touch, to heal, to hope,” said University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval. “In the coming years, as you continue to make a difference, you will make medicine proud. You will make the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine proud.”
Dr. Paul Hauptman, UNR Med Dean and Renown Health Chief Academic Officer, also emphasized the profound impact these graduates can have on the world and reminded all in attendance that the heart of medicine lies not only in the mastery of scientific knowledge but also in fostering deep connections with patients.
“The patient should always be at the center of what we do, always and every day,” Dr. Hauptman said. “This has been and will continue to be a profession of sacrifice and responsibility.”
Drawing inspiration from lessons of the past, the keynote speaker, Dr. Mark Feinberg, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, emphasized the importance of learning from historical challenges and applying those lessons to confront new obstacles. Dr. Feinberg urged the graduates to prioritize human connections, understand the social determinants of health, and balance scientific advancements with personal relationships.
“Please be champions of science, but also be champions of compassion and empathy,” Dr. Feinberg said. “You can and must be both.”
Rachael White, the Class of 2023 President, commended the resilience displayed by her classmates and their commitment to learning, educating, and shaping the future of medicine.
“We have individuals who are destined to change the world for the better,” White said.
Following the remarks, the event continued with the presentation of a green doctoral hood, an academic regalia garment worn around the neck. Dr. Cherie Singer, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, introduced the graduates and their hood presenters, who were frequently family, faculty, or mentors. Dr. Janet Corral, Associate Dean of Medical Education, and Dr. Neda Etezadi-Amoli, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, assisted each of the individuals conferring the hoods on the graduates.
Among the hood presenters were UNR Med alumni Dr. Jonathan Habashy, ’20, M.D., hooding Sergio Trejo Jr., and Dr. Ellen McBride, ’95, M.D., hooding Jacyln McBride. Dr. Derek Beenfeldt, ’11, M.D., also celebrated his son, Davison Beenfeldt’s, graduation.
During the event, Lt. Col. Bruce Gallio of the United States Air Force oversaw the commissioning of three graduates, indicating their commitment to serving their country while practicing medicine. Sarah Burgess and Maebob Enokenwa were promoted to Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy's Medical Corps, and Robert Gullickson was promoted to Captain in the U.S. Air Force's Medical Corps.
In a time-honored tradition, Dr. Lisa Calvo, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, led the recitation of the Physician’s Oath. Graduates, with hands raised, solemnly pledged their dedication to the ethical practice of medicine and the well-being of their patients.
Notable guests present at the event included:
- Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents Vice Chair Joseph Arrascada and Regents Carol Del Carlo and Jeffrey Downs
- UNR Med Alumni Chapter President Dr. Reka Danko
- UNR Med leadership, including Dr. Corral, Dr. Etezadi-Amoli, Dr. Singer, Melissa Piasecki, Executive Associate Dean, Dr. David AuCoin, Department of Microbiology and Immunology Chair, Dr. Josh Baker, University Associate Vice President for Research, and Dr. Carl Sievert, Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology
- Community partners from Renown Health, VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center, Community Health Alliance, Washoe County Medical Society
- Community physicians
- Members of the medical school’s charter class of 1973 celebrating their 50th class reunion.
- Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen also shared Senatorial Certificates with each of the graduates, further highlighting the significance of their accomplishments.
To conclude the official proceedings, President Sandoval conferred the Doctor of Medicine degrees upon the graduates, symbolizing their successful completion of their medical education. The graduates, their families, and friends then gathered outside on the front plaza, radiating joy and pride as they shared congratulations and celebrated this monumental achievement.
“You represent the very best of what our School of Medicine, and our University, is all about,” President Sandoval said. “We await your next chapter, and we know that your work throughout the communities of our state and our nation will help change them forever.”