Friday, May 28, 2010


Matt's graduation from med school was last Friday. Nobody from our family was able to go except me. It was enjoyable to be there with Rachel, saving seats for Matt's family, chatting and waiting with her during the hour before the ceremony.

Rachel said half the graduating class were girls. The class who graduated 50 years ago was honored at last week's ceremony; the names were listed in the program; only three girls were in that class.

The introductory speaker was ... uh ... well ... stunning. He was a white guy (and I am assuming, a rich white guy), and nearly half his speech was about the unfair advantages that rich white guys have. He talked about how wretched our health care system is, and the disparity of care available to those of different races and economic levels. The second big chunk of his speech was about the genome project, and how that will allow health care to be personalized in never-before-conceived ways. Yes, it's expensive. But yowza, it's going to provide awesome care for those who can pay. What a great thing, he exuded. The conclusion of his speech was trying to make sense out of those two entirely contradictory points. He asked if we will ensure an end to the disparity, and begin to provide all our best medical care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay? Or will we use these wonderful new scientific advances only for those who have the financial resources to access such high levels of medical care? And his answer was, "We will do both."

If that speech weren't for-real, it would be amusing.

Here's a picture of the stage. I was impressed by all the plants. A variety of greenery was scattered across the front of the stage, down on the floor in front of the stage, at the stairs, across the back of the stage. I wondered if they purchased them or rented them. So beautiful, but so much expense for a brief two hours. (And this attitude is why I'm not in charge of decorating ANYthing!!)

The main speaker for the graduation was a Canadian professor who specializes in the history of medicine. He was delightful! He had serious things to say, but sprinkled throughout with non-distracting light-heartedness and jokes. He seemed very genuine and not preachy. He began with the statement that it's fashionable to complain our health-care system. He admitted that there are some problems, but that the graduates could come to Canada and work in their system for a while, discovering both the benefits and flaws of that system. He said all health-care systems will have their positives and negatives. But what we need to focus on is how well-trained our doctors are, and how much suffering in the world has been alleviated in the last century. He said we can complain about who pays and how much, but we seldom reflect on just how healthy we are. We take for granted that we have antibiotics to easily cure things that used to be deadly. People who get cancer often survive it. Women don't routinely die from child-bearing. Broken bones and ankles seldom leave people lame. We can cure some deafness. Dr Bliss reminded us that these wonders are not the sign of a "broken health care system." At one point it took a lot of restraint to keep from breaking out into applause in the middle of his speech. (Maybe I should've gone ahead...) That guy deserved a standing ovation.

All my pictures of the stage, or of Matt walking across the stage, are mega-blurry. This one (blurry though it be) isn't as bad as some of the others. This shows the members of the class taking the Hippocratic Oath. (By the way, nothing in there about refusing to administer an abortifacient, although the oath was closer to the "classic version" than the "modern version.")

The dean did not ask us to hold our applause for individual graduates. However, people were considerate for the most part: short, polite clapping from the audience for all, with a noticeably more vigorous applause from the grad's family. Only for three graduates was the family's applause and cheering so loud and long that it rudely interrupted the flow of the ceremony. (All three grads had some obvious physical traits in common.) I appreciated the lady reading the names, for she had the courtesy to wait until the wild cheering died down, so that the names of the next graduates weren't drowned out.

Being the wearer of ugly orthopedic shoes, I noticed that nearly all the females wore pretty, sexy, strappy, black shoes with heels. When shoes are the only "style" you have extending out from under your graduation gown, those strappy heels looked really nice. I felt like a frump. But I was impressed with all those gals for being able to walk smoothly across the stage in high, spike-heeled sandals, and not a one fell on her face or slipped on the stairs.

The thesis topics for the PhD's and MA's were listed in the program. One girl's thesis was on the peril of parents' imposing their religious values on their children (particularly with regard to health care). "Imposing religious values." Gee, I wonder if she came into her project biased in one direction or another?? Do ya think?

In one of the speeches, the doctor quoted Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "All men and women are created equal." Oh. Funny. That's not what my encyclopedia says. And that's not what's recorded in our history book. Y'know, if you want to say that "all men and women are created equal," then go ahead and say it. But don't tell us that you're quoting Jefferson as he wrote in the Declaration.

During the ceremony, they asked the spouses of the graduates to rise, and applauded them. Then they asked the same of the grads' parents. I thought that was classy.

Matt and his proud parents!

The concluding speech began with "You deserve to be happy." I was squirming a bit in my chair as the president headed off into his speech this way. But by the time he approached the end of his speech, he was explaining to the graduates that happiness can be found only in serving others, in giving, in self-sacrifice. Well, that's not such a bad way to end the ceremony after all.


  1. Oja's daughter graduated from kindergarten. Our whole life is a continuous examination

  2. Great pictures and write-up! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the account and pictures of the special day!

  4. Aww.... having no family at my own graduation last year, I'm glad you were able to be there for Matt's! It makes the whole experience much better when shared with loved ones. :)