Highlights of the MD, PhD, and Dual Degree Ceremony
In his opening address, Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, began: “Today, you will hear this word a lot: ‘Congratulations.’ I want to make sure you hear these words even louder: ‘Thank you.’” Dr. Davis, like many of the Commencement speakers this year, applauded the leadership and bravery that the ISMMS Class of 2021 shouldered over the past year. Of the class, he said, “This institution will never forget what you risked. This city will never forget what you gave and who you saved. We are so fortunate to have been able to count on you, and to count you among us during this unprecedented test.” In a clarion call to action, Dr. Davis charged the graduates to uphold Mount Sinai’s strong values and good name, and to continue relieving the world of suffering by making its people healthier.
Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Presiding Official of the 2021 ceremony, shared a moment of reflection and pride over the graduates’ academic journey, and especially their dauntless actions in the face of their world, like many of ours, changing overnight. Dean Charney applauded the Class of 2021 for their resilience and heroic solidarity, standing beside the researchers and clinicians on the front lines during the pandemic, while also braving another public health crisis: racism in America. “You didn’t hesitate for a moment to take a stand against racism, sitting on the Anti-Racism Task Force, becoming true partners in creating a strategic plan for the entire health system,” he said. In his closing words, Dean Charney assured the class that he has no doubt that they would continue to devote impressive energy to their careers, while distinguishing themselves as pathfinders, leaders, and advocates for social justice.
In advance of the ceremony, the 2021 Commencement Speaker, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, PhD, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County spoke with five graduates to provide insights to what is on the minds of the class. The answer: the search for optimism. Dr. Hrabowski offered heartfelt and candid remarks, encouraging the class to always remember the importance of balancing the idealism with which they began their medical careers, with the reality of the profession, noting that alongside every challenge, are opportunities. Dr. Hrabowski, roused the class, “Look in the mirror and see yourselves to define yourselves. Look beyond yourselves, at your patients and the people you serve in one way or the other, and see them. Envision the possibilities.” In closing, Dr. Hrabowski quoted Aristotle, saying, “Choice not chance determines your destiny.” He ended his remarks with an assuring message to the class, “Continue to do well; you’ve done masterfully.”
During this year’s ceremony, the Icahn School of Medicine conferred four honorary degrees to: Lonnie Bunch, Secretary, Smithsonian Institute; Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Sangeeta Bhatia, MD, PhD, John J. And Dorothy Wilson Professor of Engineering, Director, Marble Center For Cancer Nanomedicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and this year’s Commencement Speaker, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, PhD, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
The Icahn School of Medicine granted a total of 201 degrees to graduates of the following programs: 147 MD, 34 PhD, and 20 Dual Degree (14 MD/PhD, three MD/MPH, and three MD/MSCR). In addition to graduating with high distinctions the Class of 2021 have authored publications in health care; have made extraordinary discoveries in cancer, heart disease, and mental illness research; have advocated for health access and inclusion for marginalized communities; and have been recognized for providing unrivaled care locally through the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership, as well as in the global community. The Class of 2021 joins a network of accomplished alumni, known the world over for their integrity, discovery, altruism, and clinical research excellence.
The 2021 Commencement Ceremony program is available to view and download.
Commencement Week Activities
“Preserving Legacy. Looking Forward.”
At the start of this celebratory week, the Icahn School of Medicine had the honor of hosting a fireside chat featuring Lonnie Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian. On Monday, May 13, Secretary Bunch sat down with Class of 2021 graduate, Rachel Wilkinson in an open talk about the history and effects of racism in American medicine, preserving legacy, and looking forward to the future.
On Thursday, May 13, the Icahn School of Medicine held a virtual Achievement Ceremony for outstanding Medical, PhD, and Dual Degree students. Students, parents, faculty, and guests were invited to share in the virtual event. The 2021 Achievement Ceremony program is available to view and download.