Glassboro, NJ — Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) marked the graduation of its 6th and largest class of medical doctors with a pandemic-style commencement ceremony held on Monday, May 10, 2021.
Unlike many graduation celebrations this year, CMSRU’s Commencement took place live and in-person, outdoors, under a tent on the University Green of Rowan University’s main campus in Glassboro, N.J.
Graduates, all vaccinated against COVID-19 and in masks, processed through the Green in the presence of loved ones, friends, faculty and mentors. Commencement guests were seated in “family pods” that were separated by six feet and masking of all guests was required.
Annette C. Reboli, MD, dean of CMSRU, opened the ceremony by asking students to acknowledge their loved ones for the support they provided to them during their medical school careers. In her address, she remarked about how the pandemic has tested the resilience, grit, adaptability and emotional intelligence of CMSRU’s students, particularly the Class of 2021.
“You were thrust into a situation and now it has been incorporated into the stories of your lives,” said Reboli. “You have been transformed by current events in ways that may not be readily apparent but that will reveal themselves as you progress in your careers. The world has changed, and so have you. I expect that you will be better physicians and true healers because of this.”
Reboli also lauded the students for stepping up during the pandemic, noting that for some, it was among their finest moments. CMSRU students performed a variety of volunteer activities throughout the past 14 months, and were involved in leading and supporting mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics, helping to vaccinate more than 100,000 health care workers and citizens.
Current events were also a theme of the class farewell address from CMSRU Class of 2021 President Margaret Adamma Spearman, MD ’21.
“We have survived two global pandemics – one being COVID-19 and the other being the racial reckoning over repeated racialized violence towards Blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans,” Spearman said. “I believe this will make us stronger, more caring doctors because we will strive to be anti-racist and humanistic.”
A highlight of the event was the reading of the graduates’ names by Erin Pukenas, MD, assistant dean for student affairs, the symbolic cloaking in doctoral hoods and the recitation of the Hippocratic Oath. This year’s faculty hooders, selected by members of the Class of 2021, included Brian Gable, MD, senior director of curricular innovation; Anthony Mazzarelli, MD, JD, associate dean for clinical affairs and co-president of Cooper University Health Care; Jocelyn Mitchell-Williams, MD, PhD, associate dean for diversity and community affairs; and Sundip Patel, MD, assistant dean for curriculum.
In a few weeks, CMSRU’s newly-minted doctors move on to the next phase of their medical education as first year residents. They join the 327 CMSRU alumni now training and providing healthcare at hospitals and medical centers across the country.
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