I attended commencement on Monday because two of my good friends graduated from medical school and it was a much more informative affair than I expected. More than anything it was a rather motivating event that reminded me how badly I want to walk across that stage next year. As a veteran member of the drone army of graduate students I long ago forgot about the possibility of a graduation date but watching this year’s refugees was enough to snap me back to reality. With some serious hard work, coffee, and a tad bit of luck from the science gods I WILL make it happen.
I was also reminded of how theatrical medical school has always seemed to me. Solemn oaths, dramatic costume changes from a short coat to a long one and their accompanying ceremonies, framed class photos, yearbooks, talent shows—I half expected a laser light show to lead in the hooding ceremony. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a major sucker for pomp and circumstance (both figuratively and literally) but when you juxtapose the medical students with the graduate students–who barely even know one another and tend to be under represented because we graduate all year long–we tend to come off looking a bit like unwashed cousins who’ve come to crash the party. Now please don’t misunderstand, my ire is not so much directed at the medical students because you’d better believe I’d be soaking that stuff up if I were in their shoes, but rather at my own graduate division comrades. Now I know for a fact that as a group we are a fantastically fun people so I say next year we go big. I’m thinking flash mob. Also, we need a class photo to hang in these prestigious halls for eternity so generations down the road can laugh at our hairstyles. Finally, we are in desperate need of an oath. I’m thinking about penning something for next year about promising to abide by the laws set out by the all-mighty NIH, promising to always remember the difference between the Biohazard manual and Lab Safety manual, vowing to never believe data without the proper controls, etc…I’ve got a year, I’ll work on it. Now start practicing your dance moves!
All kidding aside, congratulations to the class of 2011! I am privileged and proud to call a good chunk of you friends and I know how hard you worked for your degrees!