Weill Cornell Medicine Commencement returns to Carnegie Hall
By Kathryn Inman
Dr. Meridith Pollie was always interested in math and science, but a volunteer opportunity working and bonding with patients at a long-term health care facility inspired her to dedicate those passions in service of others.
“I realized that I got a whole different kind of fulfillment from building relationships with people whom I can potentially help,” said Pollie, who through those patient experiences discovered her calling as a doctor.
On May 19, Pollie achieved a milestone in her professional journey: graduation from Weill Cornell Medical College. For her and the graduating students in the Class of 2022, commencement is a time to celebrate their accomplishments, reflect on their education and look forward to what comes next.
“I’m excited to use all of the tools that Weill Cornell Medicine has given me over these past four years,” said Pollie, 27, who will soon start her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, returning to her native Philadelphia. “To step into this next phase of leadership and be able to enter the patient’s room with confidence, knowing that I’m well-trained and prepared because of all of the people here who have been so invested in my education.”
Pollie was among 425 expected graduates – 118 medical doctors, 90 with doctorates, 49 physician assistants and 168 with master of science degrees – in the Class of 2022 who received their degrees from Weill Cornell Medicine during the May 19 commencement ceremony at Carnegie Hall.
President Martha E. Pollack joined Deans Augustine M.K. Choi and Barbara Hempstead in conferring degrees on students graduating from Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, in the first in-person ceremony since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students crossed the Perelman Stage, lined with vibrant red and white floral bouquets, to cheers from family and friends.
In his address to the Class of 2022, Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and provost for medical affairs of Cornell University, noted that despite its challenges, the pandemic allowed for unique perspectives and opportunities to effect real change in health care.
“You have studied with the best clinicians, researchers and educators, and you are graduating with the skills, knowledge and qualities you need to make an impact in your field of choice,” Choi said. “Your experience – although challenging in unexpected ways – may even prove to be a strength.
“The pandemic has forced all of us to reexamine our priorities and our assumptions about the world around us,” he added. “It’s raised many questions that will require the sharpest minds to figure out.”
Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar also celebrated its 41 graduates in the Class of 2022 during a commencement ceremony on May 11, when they received their Cornell medical degrees from Dean Javaid I. Sheikh.
With their formal education complete, the Weill Cornell Medicine graduates now embark on their residencies, fellowships and postdoctoral positions – the next phase of their professional careers as physicians, scientists and leaders in health care. And with them they take a continued commitment to excellence.
“Every single one of you was accepted to Weill Cornell Medicine because you demonstrated a record of academic and personal excellence – of aspiring to, and achieving, the highest standards in your studies and your work,” Pollack said. “You showed that you were committed to doing much more than what was required – you showed that you had the ambition, and the ability, to make your own contributions to science and to medicine. And here at Weill Cornell Medicine, you’ve built on that commitment.”
Hempstead, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, highlighted the significance of the graduates’ accomplishments as they undertake careers in biomedicine.
“You have inspired us, your teachers, as you have become skilled in critical thinking and taken enormous pleasure in being the first to explain a scientific mystery,” Hempstead said. “As a class, you have published work in the highest impact journals, excelled in teamwork across disciplinary boundaries and made groundbreaking discoveries.”
Dr. Andre Neil Forbes, graduate school commencement speaker, whose focus is cancer research, also lauded his fellow classmates. “You have all done the work, proven to yourselves – and others – that you were up to the challenge,” he said, adding one note of advice. “As we head out into the wider world, I ask each of you: Be the embodiments of the support, mentorship, encouragement and education you received here at Weill Cornell; pay it forward.”
For medical school commencement speaker Dr. Tyler Garman, who will soon be starting his residency in urology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, it is the “incredible power of community” found at Weill Cornell Medicine and beyond that would make the greatest impact.
“As we continue to the next steps ahead and get lost in the maze of challenges, changes and triumphs, I hope we will remember that our community can always shine a light on the path and help us regain our bearings,” Garman said. “Let the friends we have made here, the friends and colleagues we have yet to make, and the loved ones who stand by our sides, cultivate a network together that will lift both ourselves and our patients up.”
Roshni Sen always knew that her career path would lead to medicine, but she made a stop along the way: earning a master’s degree in population health sciences from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. The one-year program, from which she graduated on May 19, focuses on health policy and economics and exposed her to different facets in health care, such as law and business, that she otherwise would never have considered. The program reaffirmed her decision to pursue medicine and apply the lessons she’s learned from her master’s studies to help patients.
“I am so excited to have graduated,” said the 22-year-old from Houston, who is now poised to apply to medical school. “We’ve had a lot of work this past year, and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and move on to the next chapter.”