Being a physician takes a special blend of humanism and science, something the Class of 2021 has in abundance, Interim Dean Peter Bates told the MD recipients at the 129th commencement of Tufts University School of Medicine.
“You have shown your commitment to healing individual patients and helping to repair our world,” he said. “There is nothing more important or more needed right now.”
There was no ignoring that this year’s virtual commencement was not what graduates pictured when they began their medical school journeys.
“We are not sitting in a sunlit field in Medford and I am not speaking from a podium but rather this wobbly desk in my home in Maine,” said Spencer Scott, M21, the class president, in his address. “And to be totally honest, I feel a little bit silly sitting at my desk in this robe and cap.”
The biggest absence, he said, is not the pomp and circumstance and a stage to strut across, but the chance for the class of 2021 to be together again.
“I know we long to recreate those truly communal moments of our first and second years—the noisy interludes between lectures in the auditorium, the downright raucous energy at the beginning of a day in the anatomy lab, or the audible euphoria of M21 gathering in the halls of MedEd post-exam,” he said. “I long for those moments, because what we have shared is truly special.”
The events of the last year have laid bare “the inequities and injustices that deeply trouble our nation,” he said. As new doctors, the members of the class now have the power to make change, he said.
“I believe in the ability of this group, this class, this new generation of physicians to begin to right what has been wrong for so long,” he said.
Keynote speaker Pritesh Gandhi, A04, M11, MG11 (MPH), chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security, spoke of the role kindness plays in medicine. He talked about the speech therapist that he, as a young child who stuttered, went to visit several times each week.
“She created an environment by her kindness where I could succeed,” he said. “She exercised all of her training to help me, but . . . all I can remember now is how kind she was.”
“Be kind,” he continued. “But please don’t mistake kindness for lack of action. You can be kind, but be absolutely ruthless in your quest to build a better world for your patients and their families.”
He told the story of the patient—a bus driver who was unable to take time off from his job to attend to his health—who inspired the Austin, Texas, clinic where Gandhi worked to take the lead advocating for paid sick leave. It resulted in a paid sick leave ordinance in Austin in 2018.
“We all have the ability to make a difference in the world we live in,” he said. “And if for whatever reason you find that you are blocked from making a difference, then make a plan to overcome that obstacle.” —Julie Flaherty, University Communications and Marketing
Triple-Jumbo Gandhi was recently appointed chief medical officer for the Department of Homeland Security by President Joe Biden.
During his time at Tufts, he studied studied international relations, economics, medicine, and public health. Gandhi has previously served as associate chief medical officer at People’s Community Clinic in Austin, a federally qualified health center, and as a clinical assistant professor at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.
In advance of his address to the graduating classes of Tufts University School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences on May 23, Gandhi talked with Tufts Now about his new role in Washington. Read more >>
The all-university event is inclusive of the graduates of all schools. This ceremony included the Commencement address as well as the granting of honorary degrees. No individual graduates were recognized at this event. Instead, individual graduates were recognized at the school-specific ceremonies (listed below).
|Saturday, May 22 at 1 p.m. EDT
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD and OTD Hooding Ceremony
Saturday, May 22 at 2 p.m. EDT
Baccalaureate (features interviews, a musical performance, speeches, and multifaith blessings from our chaplains)
Sunday, May 23 at 9 a.m. EDT
|Sunday, May 23 at 10 a.m. EDT
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
School of Engineering (Graduate Programs)
School of Engineering (Undergraduate Programs)
School of Arts and Sciences (Including the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts)
Sunday, May 23 at 12 p.m. EDT
|Sunday, May 23 at 1 p.m. EDT
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (Master’s)
Sunday, May 23 at 2 p.m. EDT
School of Medicine (Public Health and Professional Degree Programs)
School of Medicine (MD Program)
Sunday, May 23 at 3 p.m. EDT