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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

SMHS graduates told to take joy in healing, embrace challenges at Commencement ceremony

Tyler Iglesias

Updated May 30, 2024, at 2:33 p.m. 

Graduates were encouraged to embrace challenges and uncertainty and soak up moments of joy at the graduation ceremony for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Lisner Auditorium on Saturday.

SMHS Dean Barbara Bass, faculty member and executive associate dean Joyce Maring and student speakers Priya Kannusamy and Fatima Elgarguri, congratulated and addressed 309 graduates receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Officials also presented three awards to students for their excellence during their time at GW.

Bass congratulated graduates on entering a “noble” profession driven by the goal of serving others and helping people live “longer, healthier, and happier” lives. She said graduates are joining the profession at a moment of “healthcare history” after the COVID-19 pandemic as many graduates contributed to and still contribute to the rebuilding efforts post-pandemic.

“Despite these challenges and more, you have risen to meet them,” Bass said. “I know that this class of ‘24 is remarkably resilient, determined and dedicated, and I know that you will all be well prepared for the future through this part of your education you received here at GW.”

Faculty members presented three students with awards, including Kannusamy and Elgarguri who were awarded with the Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Awards, respectively. Faculty also awarded the Ozgur Ekmekci Interprofessional Leadership Award to Jessica Lincoln, a master’s student studying clinical and translational research.

Kannusamy, who majored in clinical research administration, said being a student at GW was her “anchor” after losing her daughter in 2019 to a genetic disorder. She said she is ready to use the tools she gained at GW and inspiration from her daughter to enter her future with “open arms.”

“Please remember, every challenge can be a stepping stone for growth,” Kannusamy said.
“When faced with uncertainty, just take one step forward, just like I did, and it may open up a world of possibilities.”

Elgarguri, who majored in physician assistant studies and public health, said graduates should cherish the joy that comes with moments of healing in the medical field, whether it’s while helping a patient overcome an illness or injury or seeing the gratitude of their loved ones.

“Hold on to that joy,” Elgarguri said. “Let it sustain your empathy during long shifts, complex cases and challenging research projects and motivate you as you continuously renew your commitment to the noble intentions of your calling.”

Joyce Maring, a professor and executive associate dean of health sciences, said graduates must work as a team to achieve success in tackling the medical problems in the world today. She said if graduates work together as a team they will be “unstoppable” due to the diverse skills the graduates have by going through SHMS’s different majors and programs.

“Graduates, it’s not hyperbole to say you and your new skills are needed more than ever and your particular skills nurtured by your particular credentials are crucial,” Maring said.

This post was updated to correct the following: 

The Hatchet incorrectly quoted Elgarguri telling graduates to renew their commitment to the “noble intentions for your input,” she said “the noble intentions of your calling.” The Hatchet did not report that Elgarguri also majored in public health. We regret these errors.

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