The 2016 Baylor College of Medicine graduating class, including 183 receiving medical degrees and 84 receiving doctorates, were advised to “be mindful,” challenged to continue community involvement and cheered by hundreds of family members and friends gathered in Jones Hall in downtown Houston for the event.
Dr. Eric Schoomaker, former U.S. Army Surgeon General, told the graduates when he retired from the service after 32 years, the one skill he realized he wished he had been taught was mindfulness.
The commencement speaker, a retired lieutenant general, said, “I am convinced that in an age when we are overwhelmed with a 24-hour news cycle, with multiple intrusive electronic devices from our cell phones to our FitBits – to the social media on our tablets, with more data points that we can manage such that the information which we should derive from them is lost, much less the knowledge and the wisdom contained therein, mindfulness is what will keep you fresh, optimistic and engaged with the humans you hope most to serve, to befriend and to love.”
Dr. Paul Klotman, Baylor president, CEO and executive dean, conferred the degrees of the students completing their work in the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
He spoke of Baylor’s leadership in the community and reminded the graduates, “Community involvement is not optional for those of us in medicine and research. It is an absolute responsibility.”
“During your training at Baylor, we have challenged you to be innovative in your approach to patient care and research,” Klotman said. “Today I challenge you to be innovative in how you take what you have learned and apply it to community outreach. It is time for you to come up with the solutions and make a difference.”
Provost Dr. Alicia Monroe presented four candidates for honorary degrees – Kay Bailey Hutchison, former U.S. Senator; Kevin Lofton, CEO of catholic Health Initiatives, Dr. William Butler, chancellor emeritus at Baylor, and Dr. Schoomaker.
The four received their honorary degrees from Klotman and were hooded by Baylor Board Chair Fred Lummis.
Hutchison and Lofton received the Doctor of Humanities in Medicine degree, which is awarded to individuals who have provided exceptional support or service, either directly or indirectly, to Baylor College of Medicine or to academic medicine as a whole. Monroe said that even science cannot change the weather, explaining Hutchison’s absence as weather continued to derail her travel plans.
Butler and Schoomaker received the Doctor of Letters in Medicine, which is awarded to physicians or research scientists who have excelled in medicine through teaching, research or public service and whose acts have brought credit or advancement to Baylor College of Medicine or to the profession of academic medicine.
In addition, Dr. Stuart Yudofsky, former chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor, was presented the Distinguished Service Award.
Speaking on behalf of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Class was Meagan Barry, and representing the Medical Class was Paige Marie Kennedy.
Dr. Barry received her doctorate from the Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine Program. Dr. Kennedy is beginning residency training at the University of Chicago Pritzer School of Medicine in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery.
Earlier on commencement day, a Commissioning Ceremony was held in the Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum for Bryant Nieto, who was commissioned into the U.S. Navy, and Amanda Delgado, who was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. Against the backdrop of a display case of Dr. DeBakey’s work with the military and American and Texas flags, as well as those of the Air Force and Navy, Nieto and Delgado took oaths given by Dr. Timothy Porea, a Baylor faculty member who oversees the military program at the College. Speaking at the event were Klotman, Monroe and Schoomaker, in addition to Porea. More than 40 family and friends attended.