May 15, 1998

Commencement ’98 a family affair

Commencement '98 a family affair

reporter_5.15.98_1.jpg (14k)

At last week's graduation ceremony, Dean John Chapman (left) looked on as Andrew Brockenbrough received his diploma from his father, visiting professor of Surgery Dr. Edwin Brockenbrough. (Photo by Donna Jones Bailey)

reporter_5.15.98_2.jpg (16k)

Five-year-old Katie Waller helped her mother, graduating Nursing School student Cindy Waller, prepare for last week's ceremony. (Photo by Donna Jones Bailey)

reporter_5.15.98_3.jpg (32k)

Dr. Harry Jacobson presented his first graduating class as Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. (Photo by Donna Jones Bailey)

reporter_5.15.98_4.jpg (15k)

Emeritus professors honored at graduation included (from left) Dr. Anh Dao; Joel Hardman, Ph.D.; Dr. James Elliott; Dr. Greer Ricketson; Dr. Sandra Kirchner; and Joyce Laben, M.S.N., R.N. (Photo by Donna Jones Bailey)

reporter_5.15.98_5.jpg (24k)

reporter_5.15.98_6.jpg (27k)

reporter_5.15.98_7.jpg (24k)

[top] Graduating School of Medicine students gathered on Alumni Lawn.<BR>[middle]Dr. John Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. <BR>[bottom]Founder's Medals were awarded to Carolyn Burke Marindale (left), School of Nursing, and Sarah Gladstone, School of Medicine. (Photos by Donna Jones Bailey)

When most of Justin Thomas¹ family came to see him graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine last Friday, it was a feeling of déjà vu.

The Thomas family, from Gulfport, Miss., is quite familiar with the quality of a Vanderbilt medical education.

His sister, Melissa, graduated with a M.D./Ph.D. degree in 1991 and presented her brother with his degree last Friday during the medical school¹s program of recognition. His brother, Joshua, is completing his second year of medical school here.

The siblings came to Vanderbilt for different reasons, Justin said.

"When my sister was here, my brother and I were much younger, but she did expose us to Vanderbilt. When it came time to choose a medical school, I was looking for a strong medical school in the southeast and I was very attracted to Vanderbilt," he said.

"Part of my early exposure to Vanderbilt made me want to look here, and I loved it," he said.

Thomas, who will begin a one-year residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt before heading to the University of Texas at Houston for a residency in ophthalmology, said it¹s hard to say how much each sibling¹s pursuit of a Vanderbilt medical degree influenced the younger sibling. The only common theme among the siblings is a love of science and working with people.

"It wasn¹t a matter of sitting down and encouraging each other to go into medicine. It was an independent decision. I decided at a very early age to go into medicine. It was sort of a childhood dream, and I followed that dream by enrolling in pre-med courses at the University of Southern Mississippi."

It was a family affair of a different sort for Chris and Tamara Iorio. The couple, both 26, was able to experience graduation together this year. One of several married couples graduating from VUSM, the two were presented with their degrees by Tammy¹s father, Dr. Dennis Stone, an internal medicine physician from Columbus, Ind.

"Graduation is very much a family affair," Chris Iorio said. "It¹s been very helpful for Tami and me to go through medical school together. We have supported each other and we knew first-hand what we were dealing with and why things were affecting us the way they were. There¹s no better way to share this very important step in your life than with someone you have chosen to spend your life with," he said.

The couple met fairly early in their first year of medical school. They were dating by the second semester; engaged between their second and third years; and married between their third and fourth years.

They will begin their residencies at Vanderbilt University Hospital this summer: Chris in Medicine; Tamara in Pediatrics.

The Iorios joined 103 fellow students who participated first in a university-wide commencement ceremony, then were recognized individually at the medical school¹s Program of Recognition. The students heard remarks from Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, and Dr. John E. Chapman, Dean of VUSM. Dr. R. Michael Rodriquez, associate clinical professor of Medicine, presented them with their academic hoods. Rodriquez was selected by the students as the winner of this year¹s Shovel Award, given for excellence in teaching. Dr. Deborah C. German, associate dean of students, and Gerald S. Gotterer, associate dean, also participated in this year¹s ceremony. Dr. Robert D. Collins, Professor of Pathology, led the class in reciting their oath.

Receiving the Founder¹s Medal for superior academic achievement during the university-wide commencement was Sarah Gladstone of Lexington, Mass.

"I am proud to be here," Jacobson told the graduating class as he made his first appearance at graduation as Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs.

"I am proud to be joined in our profession of medicine by this wonderful group of men and women who today will bind themselves to their physician colleagues in healing and to the patients who need them," he said.

"It is through the recitation of an oath, a pledge, a promise, that we bind ourselves. The oath you will pledge today represents your entry into something larger than a physician-provider community. It represents your conscious and willing entry into a moral community."

Dean Chapman told the students they are among 3,112 who have been awarded their degrees while he has served as Dean. This was his 31st program of recognition.

During the ceremony, 31 of the graduates received their diplomas from relatives who are medical doctors. Sheela V. Arakali, Deborah Ann Bilder, Joel Samson Corvera and Vaew Jon Wongsurawat received their degrees from both parents.

A first in this year¹s ceremony was the presentation of three students who received the new Master of Public Health Degree. The students, William Owen Cooper, Kathleen Maletic Neuzil and Walter E. Smalley Jr., participated in the program that is designed to prepare doctoral-level health care professionals for a career in clinical and outcomes research.

"Our first graduates are a very talented and enthusiastic group and it has been a privilege to work with them," said Wayne Ray, Ph.D., professor of Preventive Medicine. "I am looking forward to continuing to work with them in the future and to watching their accomplishments. I also look forward to seeing the MPH program grow, as I think it will enhance Vanderbilt¹s strengths as a major biomedical research center."