“Each of you has aspired to this day and has duly earned it,” says provost Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski.
Smiling underneath their masks, the Class of 2025 embarked on their medical school journey in a joyous White Coat Ceremony.
The July 23 event at Philadelphia’s Crystal Tea Room marked the first in-person White Coat Ceremony since 2019 due to the pandemic. Many Sidney Kimmel Medical College students savored the time to celebrate with their loved ones and new classmates, which include a cowboy, professional roofer, Eagle Scout, stand-up comic and Iron Man competitor among their ranks.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this day,” says student Sydney Somers. “I think we’re all really happy to be here and relish in this moment. I’m so grateful that everyone has been able to be here today.”
With his family close by taking photos, Marlon Lowe Jr. shared this excitement. “It’s incredible,” he says. “It still doesn’t quite feel real yet.”
Student David O’Connell called the ceremony—and the week of face-to-face orientation leading up to it—a sign of better things to come.
“There’s so much to look forward to,” he says.
Somers, Lowe and O’Connell belong to a select group. The 277 members of the Class of 2025 were chosen from a “staggering pool” of 11,678 applicants, says Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and the Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
“Today marks a significant milestone in your lives as you ceremoniously don white coats that signify an auspicious new beginning,” Dr. Tykocinski told the crowd. “Each of you has aspired to this day and has duly earned it, leveraging innate talents and unswerving diligence to secure a highly coveted position in our nation’s fifth medical school.”
Dr. Charles Pohl, chancellor of Center City Campus and vice dean of student affairs of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, urged students to care for patients rather than manage them and heal them rather than treat them.
He also asked the new class to advocate for those without a voice and recognize the effect of the social determinants of health. To help change the perceptions of an often-stigmatized group, each medical student received a Narcan kit, a medication to reverse an opioid overdose. Jefferson’s Dr. Abigail Kay worked closely with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to facilitate the distribution of the emergency kits.
“Minute one, you can have an impact on someone’s life,” says student Anna Lauriello, whose parents are Jefferson physicians. “It’s really special.”
Throughout the two-hour ceremony, students recited the professional values of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, the Maimonides Prayer for the Physician and the Hippocratic Oath, as well as heard words of encouragement from faculty.
“You will never walk alone here at Jefferson because we are with you,” says Dr. Patricia Curtin White, president of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College Alumni Association.
For his keynote address, Dr. Charles Yeo read passages from five giants of medical and surgical history: Drs. Alfred Blalock, John Chalmers DaCosta, Samuel D. Gross, William Stewart Halsted and William Osler.
“Wear your white coats proudly,” says Dr. Yeo, the Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery.
Dr. Sandra Brooks, EVP, chief community health equity officer, noted she saw a room full of potential and power in her remarks on doctoring.
“Society and communities need you,” she says. “We need you as family physicians, academic leaders, highly skilled surgeons and innovators. But just as importantly, we need you as thought leaders and people willing to make a difference—not only in how to treat patients but also how we shape the future of healthcare in our society.”
Amid the backdrop of the pandemic, student Yash Shah says he’s excited, yet humbled, to start medical school.
“I’m proud to be able to contribute to a field that has gotten so much recognition,” he says.
Classmate Jasmine Miller, who would like to pursue pediatric psychology, says it feels amazing to finally reach a long-time goal.
“I’m proud of my accomplishments and to be surrounded by so many wonderful, wonderful people,” she says.