June 9, 2022

Return to tradition: Surrounded by supporters, Class of 2022’s 307 new doctors graduate with medical degrees

Mistress of Ceremonies Margit Chadwell, M.D., looks into the audience at the Fox Theatre in Detroit as one of 307 new physicians is hooded on June 7.

(Photo gallery)

(Video of ceremony)

Kristina Hart had a very big week. First, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter, on June 2. Five days later, she become a doctor.

Hart was one of the 307 members of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Warrior M.D. Class of 2022 who earned a medical degree at the 154rd commencement and hooding ceremony, held June 7 in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. 

Kristina Hart, M.D.

“Everything is a whirlwind. Everything is happening so fast, but everything is happening according to plan,” she said.

In another milestone moment, Hart and family are moving to Florida, hundreds of miles from her hometown of Detroit, where she grew up attending Detroit Public Schools and attended Project Genesis, giving her the opportunity to intern at the Detroit Medical Center while in high school.

“That started my love of medicine,” she said.

She will practice Emergency Medicine at Aventura Hospital in Miami, Fla.

Several members of Hart’s family watched her walk across the Fox Theatre stage. In a return to pre-pandemic tradition, the new doctors were cheered by hundreds of family members and friends in the audience, and several dozen faculty members and Wayne State University leadership and commencement speakers.

Eleven of Obinna Onyeukwu’s family traveled to Detroit from Chicago to watch him receive his doctorate hood and medical degree.

“This is surreal. It feels like a dream right now,” Onyeukwu said before the ceremony. His family, smiling and laughing, reminded him that this was indeed real life. He will reunite with them soon, going home to Chicago to begin his Emergency Medicine residency at Loyola University Medical Center, in Maywood, Ill.

Obinna Onyeukwu celebrated graduation surrounded by family.

The new doctors will begin their medical residencies later this month and in early July, depending on the program.

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, who graduated with his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1980, was among the day’s first speakers. He reminded the students what an immense and important privilege it is to be a doctor.

“Once you walk across the stage and earn your diploma, you’re never going to not be a doctor again. Being a doctor is not just a profession. It is an identity,” he said. “I’m so proud of you. Congratulations, doctors. You are great. And you will do great things.”

President M. Roy Wilson and Wael Sakr, M.D.

The Class of 2022 holds the distinction of completing half of its medical education – two years of clinical rotations – during a pandemic. For the second consecutive year, graduating seniors who lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus lighted a candle that burned for the rest of the ceremony.

School of Medicine Dean Wael Sakr, M.D., spoke about how the pandemic affected the graduates’ medical education experience, perhaps for the better.

“You witnessed your faculty – your teachers – stepping up to the plate in one of the hardest hit cities in the nation and probably beyond. Your emergency room doctors, your ICU doctors, your infectious disease doctors, your laboratory and testing doctors, again and again, over and over. This is definitely something that we are proud of, and you witnessed first-hand yourself. More so, you participated day in and day out in these achievements. That is a true baptism by fire during your clinical years,” Dr. Sakr said. “Now you are moving into the next phase. You are graduating as Wayne State University School of Medicine doctors. The brand that this school graduates is very special, known here and around the country – excellent doctors, magnificent clinical skills and a heightened sense of compassion and social justice.”

California native Kelsey Gaylor represents that brand. She selected Wayne State University for her medical education because the school’s spirit of health care equity and advocacy resonated with her. She previously worked on sexual assault policy and social justice in Sacramento, where she met her fiancé, who moved with her to Detroit and graduated from Wayne State University Law School on May 16. 

Kelsey Gaylor, M.D.

“I came to Wayne because of opportunity to work with an underserved population,” Gaylor said.

Wayne State University Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Rana Awdish, M.D., a 2002 graduate of the School of Medicine, was the commencement's keynote speaker. Dr. Awdish is the author of “In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope,” a memoir of her time spent as a patient on a ventilator after a benign tumor in her liver ruptured, nearly killing her. The section head of Pulmonary Hypertension at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, she also serves as medical director of Care Experience for Henry Ford Health.

After the investiture of the doctoral hood, Vice Dean for Medical Education Richard Baker, M.D., administered the professional oath to the new physicians. Then, a Military Officer Promotion Ceremony for Class of 2022 members U.S. Army Capt. Collin Bennett and U.S. Army Capt. Nhu Do, was held.

Class of 2022 President Mugdha Joshi closed the ceremony with a message of realism and responsibility to the community in the midst of several public health crises.

“When I was writing my speech, I contemplated writing something that was 100% happy and celebratory because this is an exciting day, but I feel that to do so in these times would be naïve,” Joshi said. “We must not only acknowledge, but also act on the knowledge of systemic racism in health care, the threat of a woman’s autonomy being taken from her, the mistreatment of the LGBTQA population in health care and public settings alike, and the mass casualties that are unfortunately a daily news occurrence now. To do anything otherwise is a disservice to our patients and our communities, and to our profession. Being a medical student at Wayne has uniquely prepared us to handle these public health crises.”

Class of 2022 President Mugdha Joshi, M.D., speaks at graduation on June 7. She will practice Internal Medicine at Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center in Torrance.


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