Future Awaits UConn Health Center Class of 2012

Members of the Class of 2012 are celebrating their achievement and looking forward to the next phase of their lives.

Or, as medical student speaker Christian Kakowski described it, “real, actual financial liberation.”

Kakowski is one of 89 medical students who, along with 47 dental and 30 graduate students, received their degrees May 13 at the Connecticut Convention Center. It was the 41st UConn Health Center commencement and the first for Dr. Frank Torti, less than two weeks into his tenure as executive vice president for health affairs and medical school dean.

“The professions you’re about to embark upon are not, in fact, ‘jobs,’” Torti told the graduates. “Each is a calling.”

The commencement speaker was Dr. Edison Liu, president and chief executive officer of The Jackson Laboratory, which has partnered with the state to build a personalized medicine facility on the Health Center campus.

“Change will be much faster than ever, and much faster than you could imagine,” Liu said. “You are precisely the agents of change that our society needs so desperately. Why is that so? It’s because you’re all trained in science, you’re trained in technology.”

Liu reminded the graduates that their training will continue for the rest of their careers, and spoke of the importance of resiliency.

“Seek small victories that move you closer to your goals,” Liu said. “Don’t despair should you occasionally miss your mark. Be happy with each small advance and learn from each loss.”

His closing remark, “Go forth, do good, and make a hell of a difference,” was met with enthusiastic applause.

Dental student speaker Marcus Moss expressed a similar sentiment, telling his classmates, “Be responsible. Take this amazing opportunity in front of you. Never stop pushing. This world needs you more now than ever.”

Torti acknowledged the two men who shared the VP for health affairs and medical school dean roles on an interim basis before his arrival, UConn President Emeritus Phil Austin and Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Calhoun Cardiology Center. All three men were active participants in commencement exercises.

Then Torti told the students, “You are prepared. You are ready. But most of all, remember this: You have always been, and will continue to be, part of UConn.”

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