June 6, 2024

Congratulations, doctors: School of Medicine graduates 258 new Warrior M.D. physicians

Empower health

“Take the world, baby!”

“That’s my doctor!”

“Thank you, Detroit!”

Those exclamatory phrases were among the celebratory cheers shouted by family and friends inside the Fox Theatre in Detroit on Thursday to tell the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s 258 newest doctors at the Class of 2024’s Commencement and Hooding Ceremony they were loved, supported and admired for their years of hard work and dedication in the pursuit of earning a medical degree and caring for their fellow human beings.

Sami Nassar, M.D., at left, and Kenan Milliean, M.D., are among the Class of 2024 graduates.

Among the new physicians was Sami Nassar, M.D., whose parents traveled from Saudi Arabia, where he grew up, to attend the commencement. Dr. Nassar has wanted to be a surgeon since he was 12 years old.

“It’s a big step in our careers. It’s bittersweet knowing it’s here, but nice to celebrate our achievements,” he said.

The family of Kenan Milliean, M.D., didn’t travel nearly as far – he grew up in Southfield, Mich. But the friends shared a similar sentiment about graduating.

“Today is a lot. It feels real, and it doesn’t. To have some of these dreams fully realized? We can’t ignore it. It’s super exciting.”

The new doctors were officially congratulated on stage by members of the faculty, including department chairs and directors, School of Medicine executive leadership, deans and members of WSU President Kimberly Andrews Espy’s cabinet and the WSU Board of Governors.

Many graduates are the first physicians in their families, including Eliza Lewis, M.D., once an aspiring dog groomer until a high school science teacher encouraged her to pursue medicine because of her knack for the sciences. Her mother, of course, couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, who will begin a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in California this summer, pursuing a career in pediatric oncology.

The graduates gathered in a space adjacent to the Fox Theatre for photos and camaraderie before the commencement.

“I can’t think of a higher calling,” Suzanne Lewis said.

The ceremony’s speakers included Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development Margit Chadwell, M.D., ’94; WSU Board of Governors member Michael Busuito, M.D., ’81, Res. ’88; WSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Lauzon Clabo, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, to officially confer the degrees; School of Medicine Dean Wael Sakr, M.D., ’Fel 87; and WSU Medical Alumni Association President Rebecca Klisz-Hulbert, M.D. ’04, Res. ’07, Fel. ’09.

The commencement address was given by keynote speaker Bhanu Jena, Ph.D., George E. Palade University Professor and WSU Distinguished Professor of Physiology, who implored the graduates to care with compassion and humility, and make learning an addictive and lifelong passion.

The Marshal of Students was Director of Career Advising Sarkis Kouyoumjian, M.D. ’98, Res. ’01, an honor selected by students and given to a faculty member who has contributed greatly to their education. The Marshal of Faculty was Nashat Imran, M.D., FASN, FACP, vice president/president-elect of the Faculty Senate.

School of Medicine Dean Wael Sakr, M.D., reminded the physicians of what makes a Wayne State physician a true Warrior M.D.

“You belong to an outstanding medical school, but also to a great university, whose urban and global contributions in many fields have been enormous. Central to the mission is addressing the crucial challenges our communities face. Health disparities, front and center. We salute your commitment to relentlessly work toward the elimination of these disparities. Embrace diversity, embrace camaraderie, embrace your alma mater, Wayne State University School of Medicine. Class of 2024, go and change the world,” he said. 

Zoha Qureshi, M.D., shakes hands with Christopher Steffes, M.D., as Margit Chadwell, M.D., looks on.

After the investiture of the doctoral hoods, Vice Dean for Medical Education Richard Baker, M.D., administered the professional oath to the new physicians.

In a solemn moment, Dr. Chadwell spoke of Warrior in Memoriam Anthony Chifor, a Class of 2024 student who died Jan. 17, 2023. The school honored Chifor with a class composite that includes his photo.

Then, a Military Officer Promotion Ceremony for two Class of 2024 members was held, led by United States Air Force (retired) Col. Arthur Eisenbrey, M.D. ’86, Ph.D., ’80., a clinical professor of Pathology. Samuel Cain, M.D., was promoted to the rank of captain in the U.S. Air Force, and Benjamin Wright, M.D., was promoted to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army. The duo will attend medical residencies at military medical centers.

Class of 2024 President Mirna Kaafarani, M.D., closed the ceremony by remarking on the strength of a Wayne State medical education while also asking her classmates to figure out “who” they became physicians for in the first place – their patients.

“Let’s go out there and show the world what a darn good physician you are,” she said.

Friends and doctors take a moment to celebrate their achievements before walking across the stage at the Fox Theatre in Detroit on June 6, 2024.


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