Convocation ceremony marks start of medical education for class of 2021

During the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s July 9 convocation, entering students will take an oath of professional medical ethics and receive a white coat personalized with his or her name and the medical school patch.

The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine will welcome 115 students during a special ceremony on Sunday, July 9, formally marking the start of their medical education. The annual Convocation and White Coat Ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton.

During the ceremony, students will take their first oath of professional medical ethics, concluding with the words, “I commit myself to a lifelong journey of learning how to cure, relieve and comfort with humility and compassion.” Each student will receive a white coat — a traditional symbol of the medical profession, personalized with her or his name and the medical school patch. Students also will receive a stethoscope.

The Convocation and White Coat Ceremony represents an important milestone in each student’s journey to enter the medical profession. It also marks the first time these students will gather as a class and meet the people who will share, during the next four or more years, what may be some of the most memorable and intense experiences of their lives.

The students, who were carefully selected from a group of 5,413 applicants, will begin orientation on Friday, July 7. Classes begin on Monday, July 17.

The class of 2021 draws from a variety of undergraduate experiences. Educated at various universities across Ohio, including Kenyon College, Miami University, Ohio State University, Wittenberg University, Wright State University and Xavier University, among others, members of the class also hail from Boston College, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of Guam and the University of Texas system, among others.

In addition to Ohio, the class of 2021 comes from as far away as Arizona, California, Florida, Guam, Massachusetts and Texas. Eighty-one percent of the students are from Ohio, while 19 percent are from out of state.

From volunteering in hospital emergency departments to serving in nursing homes, the members of the class of 2021 have shown a strong commitment to community service. Some have volunteered with hospice. One student volunteered at an inpatient unit for children with severe behavioral disorders, while another volunteered at Make-A-Wish Foundation. Another student was a Peace Corps worker in Madagascar.

Fifty-five percent are women, while 45 percent are men. Sixteen percent are from groups underrepresented in medicine.

One student speaks four languages. Nine grew up in rural Ohio communities. One student is a physician assistant with 16 years of experience. Another student is a competition gymnastics teacher. Several members of the class of 2021 were varsity athletes in college, competing in basketball, football, rugby, soccer, swimming and track and field. A number of students have musical talents, with one playing three instruments.

The speaker at this year’s Convocation and White Coat Ceremony is Alisahah Cole, M.D., a 2004 graduate of the Wright State University School of Medicine. After graduating from medical school, Cole completed a residency in family medicine at Carolinas Medical Center. During that time, she won the Bryant L. Galusha Intern of the Year Award and served as co-chief resident her final year. Cole worked in a rural health clinic in Union, South Carolina, for four years before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she has served in multiple leadership roles in the Carolinas Healthcare system.

Cole has worked as vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and, most recently, as system medical director of community health. She has a passion for medical education and teaches a wide range of learners, including medical and pharmacy students, residents and behavioral health interns. Her clinical interests include health equity and population health. Cole is currently responsible for developing and implementing community health strategies in numerous counties across North and South Carolina. She is passionate about helping the underserved.

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