On May 9, the graduating class of the UTRGV School of Medicine made history, both as the inaugural class and graduating via a virtual ceremony.
The ceremony was a poignant way to honor the challenges graduates now heading into a time of pandemic.
Online participants and visitors heard messages from both UTRGV and UT System leaders. Keynote speaker was Dr. Kenneth Shine, former executive vice chancellor for Health Affairs for the UT System.
In his remarks, Dr. John Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, congratulated the 39 students on their milestone.
“You will forever be honored as the charter class from our medical school, and the first to proudly carry the UTRGV name across the country as you enter residency training,” said Krouse, who also serves as executive vice president for Health Affairs. “This is an important day, not only in your careers, but also in recognition of the years of hard work and dedication the Rio Grande Valley community has invested in making this medical school a reality and in bringing you to this very special day.”
Dr. Leonel Vela is the School of Medicine’s senior associate dean for Educational Resources and senior associate vice president for Education. She aid the virtual ceremony was a unique way to acknowledge the charter class while still practicing social distancing.
“Seeing the Charter Class of 2020 students finish their medical school journey and transition to their residency programs brings a great sense of joy and fulfillment,” Vela said. “While we wish we could have celebrated the ceremony in the traditional manner, we remain extremely proud of these new physicians, and applaud the faculty, staff and administration who have dedicated their time and effort in preparing them to enter the next phase of medical training.”
Moving Forward Into a New World
The graduates now head to residency programs throughout the United States.
Student Veronica Treviño, on her way to Corpus Christi, says her ongoing goal is to care for children in the Valley.
“That’s a big part of why Driscoll Children’s Hospital was my number-one choice for residency,” she said. “Driscoll at the moment provides the closest access to upper-level care for our Valley children. I wanted to train submersed in the needs of the children of South Texas. I wanted to be completely aware of what our South Texas children need from their healthcare providers, so that I could come out of residency knowing how to be a great pediatrician for our Valley kids.”
The medical students were able to log onto a Commencement 2020 webpage to watch the ceremony.
“Since we are on quarantine, my graduation celebration went from a large party with all my family and friends flying in from out of town to a small and intimate celebration with my immediate family in my home,” Treviño said. “This is very bittersweet.”
Despite not being able to celebrate in person, the McAllen native is grateful for her lessons as a medical student during COVID-19.
“This makes you look at the pandemic through a specific lens. It makes you realize the severity of the situation and the importance of everyone doing their part,” Treviño said. “I chose to go into medicine because this field is my passion, and I will gladly put my life at risk in order to help other people keep theirs.”