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Friday, May 18, 2007

And they're off...

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of attending the 98th Commencement Exercises and Internship Closing Ceremonies of the UP-PGH for Academic Year 2006-2007 last night at the Meralco Theater. I previously thought of skipping the event but then I got a gentle reminder from our department’s secretary so attend I did.

It was a mad kaleidoscope of emotions and memories for me, even if I was not the one graduating.

- It was my first time to attend as a teacher in the college. The moment we were asked to lineup per department and our entrance to the theater was announced- The Members of The Faculty of the UP College of Medicine- it was one of The Most Surreal Moments in my young professional life. It was one big WHOOAA.

- But before that, light dinner/ cocktails were served at the lobby area. I was sharing a table with my Pharmacology and Pathology professors plus ENT, Plastic Surgery, and Community Medicine stalwarts. They were very cordial, very nice people (underneath the veneer of strictness and seemingly unchangeable straight-laced demeanor!). I was hobnobbing with my teachers, my colleagues, AND fellow faculty members. Surreal. (Above with members of our department, from the right: Dr. Delen Dela Paz, Dr. Nina Dizon, and Prof. Linda Coniconde. Thanks to our photographer, Dr. Portia Marcelo!)

- On an uber-personal level, I also discovered I sort of enjoy dressing up for events. After all, it’s not everyday one can wear a barong and the U.P. sablay (academic sash). Don't these university bigwigs look regal and visually eloquent? (From the left- Dr Abad, Special Assistant to the Dean; Dr Balgos, Assoc Dean for Planning and Development; Dr Wang, Assoc Dean for Faculty and Students; Dr Valbuena, Assoc Dean for Acad Development; Dr Alfiler, PGH Director; Dr Roxas, Dean; Dr Arcadio, UP Manila Chancellor, and; Dr Ernesto Domingo, former UP Manila Chancellor, one of just 12 University Professors, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Medicine, Commencement Speaker.)

- I tried my best to sit still and soak the sights and sounds of the ceremonies; after all, it was one of the rare humongous events that I am made to attend without me having to rush back and forth, working behind the scenes.

- I tried my best to sit still and soak the sights and sounds of the ceremonies- but I couldn’t quit comparing Class 2007’s graduation with our. Or rather, recall my own graduation… I can still remember Johann and I still garbed in our janitor attire while most of our classmates and their families were already at the UP Theater lobby dressed to the nines since it was already- what- 1.30pm (and we were still overseeing the physical arrangements in the theater!). But that evening, two years to the day come May 22nd, and the ceremonies I attended last night, they were really for our parents who, more than ourselves, deserve the congratulations and recognition for having held us aloft through med school.

- As I watched UP Med Class 2007, it was impossible not to think of my classmates, who not too long ago sat with me in those rows, donning those academics gowns, embraced by that cumbersome hood and uncooperative cap-and-tassel complex. Some are in the US already, some have still not gotten enough of the PGH and have stayed on, some have families, some have taken on totally different career paths. I miss them all terribly…

- It was a joy to see friends two years my junior becoming full-fledged colleagues. Those seemingly lost third year students during our internship year now have that palpable air of confidence about them. From memories of presenting a number for the Ob-Gyne Christmas party (below) to assisting them as they do their first IV insertions at the ER- it was an absolute joy to see them complete their own medical school undergrad journey.

- Nothing compares to saying out loud the Oath of Hippocrates for the first time. I remember that sense of awe when we recited it during our own graduation ceremonies two years ago. What made it more special was when all other doctors in the theater were asked to re-commit themselves to the physicians' oath, when the emcee said- Physicians, all please rise- and dozens of colleagues stood with us. It felt as if we were really being ushered into a select society of servants. Last night, I was part of that crowd who stood with the graduating class as they said the Oath for arguably the first time. Re-dedicating myself to the life of a physician using the words of the Hipprocratic Oath, t was a very timely reminder for me why I am doing all the "doctor-ly" and "not-so-doctor-ly" things I do in the course of my UP and GK work.

- I come home with one thing ringing in my head. It’s what the class valedictorian said in her speech- that no one is too young, too unaccomplished, too inexperienced to make a difference in our country and in people’s lives. Amen to that.

Congratulations, Class 2007! Let us not fail the people who eagerly await your leap out of the safety of your med school nest. Pluck them out of the muck, take them on your wings and let them soar with you.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007 5:07:00 PM  

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