The Great Society of Medicine

Speakers at this year's HMS Class Day strike a humanitarian note

Several people wearing red and black academic regalia
Images: Steve Lipofsky

This year's Class Day speakers offered a wide range of ways for the new HMS graduates to think about—and revolutionize—how health care is delivered in the U.S. Taking small steps together to improve care, the idea of health care as a basic human right, oral health as primary care and the importance of hearing and keeping the stories of patients close to heart were some of the ideas expressed on a glorious spring day on the Quad. Excerpts from their remarks appear below, with links to the full speeches.

Read more about HMS/HSDM Commencement and Class Day here.

HSDM Student

Nisarg Amrish Patel

"Just one day after the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series, I made my first visit to Harvard, and was fortunate enough to share that moment with two classmates now sitting in the rows in front of me. As I set foot on the Quad, I felt different. Perhaps it was the stoic marble of Gordon Hall, the sparkling glass of the research and education building or the crisp wind chilling the autumn air around a boy born and raised in the scorching Arizona desert."

Read/watch Nisarg Amrish Patel's entire speech here.

HMS Students

Andreas Howard Mitchell

"While we get to wear the caps and gowns, this is by no means our achievement alone. At HMS, we’ve been uplifted by outstanding teachers, mentors and advisors, the most supportive student affairs and ORMA teams that anyone could ask for, dedicated administrators and an unbelievable group of people working to make sure our buildings are clean, secure, well-maintained and with technology I’m still trying to figure out how to use. Let’s show them our thanks."

Read/watch Andreas Howard Mitchell's entire speech here.

Elorm Fred Avakame

"Standing here today, I can’t help but think about my interview day, the very first time I stood on this Quad. The people were smiling, the grass was perfectly manicured, the sun was shining off the marble all around me and I was terrified. I knew that there was no chance I’d get in to school here—I was just glad to have seen this place with my own two eyes. Then I remember the day we got those acceptance emails. My brain absolutely short-circuited. I put my head in my hands, and it was like the only words I knew how to say were, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I know that most of us had similar freak-outs that day because you’ve told me those stories over the years."

Read/watch Elorm Fred Avakame's entire speech here.

Class Day Address

Neal Baer, MD ’96

"What matters to you? What keeps you up at night? What situations distress you? What brings you deep joy? And what fills you with sorrow? What scares you? And what inspires you? What gave you the dream of becoming a doctor?

"And how will you make that dream matter?

"You freshly minted physicians are the valiant. Over these past four years you’ve been given profound gifts: the art of compassion and the science of healing. Who better to use these gifts to lead the charge for social justice? As you begin your practice of medicine, you must never forget that health care is a fundamental right that reflects the very essence of our humanity. When we strip away that right, we wound our ability to care for one another. We lose our greatest and uniquely human quality: empathy. And the world turns bitterly cold. Health care is not merely a service; health care is not a commodity reserved only for those lucky enough to be able to pay top dollar for the best that medicine has to offer. People will place their lives and trust, their present pain and future joy, in your hands. What could matter more?"

Read/watch Neal Baer's entire speech here.

R. Bruce Donoff, Dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

"This is such a special day for the graduates of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical School, the Class of 2018. Congratulations to you and your loved ones who have helped you to reach this point in your lives. You are at a major milestone of a long journey of education and training designed to permit you to help people through the discovery, application and communication of knowledge, competence, compassion and caring. The development of wisdom and clinical judgment through lifelong learning and further experience represents the road ahead."

Read/watch R. Bruce Donoff's entire speech here.

George Q. Daley, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

"I am thrilled to witness this gathering today of family, friends, mentors. We are here to celebrate you, the Class of 2018.

"I will address my words directly to our exceptional HMS graduates. Today is the last day I stand in front of you as your dean, and the first day I stand with you as your fellow physician.

"That makes me incredibly proud. And enormously hopeful as well."

Read/watch George Q. Daley's entire speech here.