White Coat Ceremony for UConn’s 50th Medical School Class

Adeloa Adeyeye, UConn School of Medicine class of 2022, receives her white coat in the annual ceremony on August 24, 2018. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

The annual White Coat Ceremony was held Friday for the class of 2022 – the UConn School of Medicine’s 50th class and also its largest at 106 students.

Yoga Kammili, class of 2022, receives his white coat during the annual ceremony. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Dr. Bruce Liang, dean of the medical school, congratulated the students and their families during the ceremony in the Academic Rotunda. “As the 50th graduating class of the UConn School of Medicine, your class marks a very important milestone in the history of the school and I want to wish you all the luck and all the best wishes in the next four years.”

A lot has changed since the first medical school class arrived in 1968. There was no White Coat Ceremony (the tradition began in the 1990s), and the 29 students were almost all white males. This year’s group of 106 medical students are mainly women at 57 percent and 20 percent are underrepresented in medicine.

But no matter the differences between the inaugural class and this one, the emotions and aspirations of the incoming medical students are undoubtedly similar.

“Always remember this day as a turning point when you officially joined the profession of medicine and all that it stands for,” said Dr. John Prescott, chief academic officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the ceremony’s keynote speaker. “Begin the journey of lifelong learning and caring and become the physicians you were meant to be.”

Dr. John Prescott, Chief Academic Officer at AAMC, delivers the welcome address during the White Coat Ceremony on August 24, 2018. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Dr. Prescott also told the first-years that, like the stethoscope, the white coat is an icon of medicine. “The white coat doesn’t allow you to text, tweet or snapchat … but the white coat still has a lot going for it. Over the many years it’s been worn, it’s become the symbol of science and art of medicine.”

The Class of 2022 has roots all over the country but most hail from Connecticut (73 percent).

Gilbert Agyeman is from New Haven and one of the reasons he chose UConn is because he liked the proximity to home and family.

Bristol resident Bethany Cucka said, “I chose UConn because as a Connecticut resident I wanted to be a part of my community. I’m also involved with the Urban Service Track which is one of the reasons I wanted to go into medicine. I want to increase access to healthcare in my community.”

Rachel Cohn from South Windsor, received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan and is pursuing an M.D., Ph.D. degree. “Some family experiences in my life made me want to become a doctor and then I worked at Jackson Labs for the last two years doing research in Dr. Travis Hinson’s lab so that inspired me to do research in combination with medicine.”

Gabriel Colon of Hartford receives his white coat in the annual ceremony. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Another common reason students chose UConn is because of the curriculum.

“I like the fact that the curriculum is so encouraging of team work and being inclusive, bringing us together as a group,” explained Sarah Black of Greenwich.

“I love the team-based curriculum and the early exposure to clinical experiences,” said Marissa Boch of Waterford. “I think it’s a great way to integrate what you’re learning in a classroom to what you’re going to do in real life.”

Gabriel Colon from Hartford attended UConn as an undergraduate. “I love the TBL-based curriculum and I think the professors and physicians here are very involved which I think is important to my learning experience.”

The incoming students officially donned their white coats for the first time with the help of several second-year medical students in front of a rotunda filled with family and friends. The program concluded with the recital of the Oath of Hippocrates.