Three cheers for our newest graduates

Faculty and graduating students at the commencement exercises for UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Faculty and graduating students at the 2017 commencement exercises for UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Speaking to the 95 members of the 2017 graduating class of the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Steven McKnight, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, congratulated the honorees and said that he’d give anything if he could go back and do it all over again.

“It’s fantastic what y’all have done,” said Dr. McKnight, who holds the Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Research. “You now have a Doctor of Philosophy degree, and you will do great things. I wish I could go along with you.”

During his Commencement address, he talked about having read a piece written by a leading scientist the year he earned his doctorate in biology and decided on a career in molecular biology. A leading scientist, someone Dr. McKnight respected, said the field of Molecular Biology was dead.

“He couldn’t have been more wrong,” Dr. McKnight told the graduates, proceeding to name about a half dozen discoveries in the field. “The 40 years I have had have been spectacular. So am I going to say to you that the field is dead?

“No, there is so much more to discover, and you’ll have the excitement of seeing those discoveries. I wish I could be there with you.”

Dr. Andrew Zinn, Dean of the Graduate School, presided over the event, and Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern Medical Center, conferred the degrees.

UT Southwestern Medical School commencement ceremonies at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
UT Southwestern Medical School commencement ceremonies at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

No rain on this parade – Celebrating the Class of 2017

A driving Texas downpour couldn’t dampen the mood inside the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on Sunday, June 4, when UT Southwestern Medical School graduates and their supporters filled every seat for Commencement.

Despite instructions to hold their applause, families and friends couldn’t resist the occasional whoop, holler, cheer, and even one loud horn blast to celebrate as the new physicians received their degrees.

Commencement speaker Dr. Raymond S. Greenberg, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the University of Texas System, reminded the Class of 2017 that “we are never fully formed. The true test is not how much you know, but how much you want to learn.” Dr. Greenberg announced that 65 members of the class would remain at UTSW for their residencies, then offered his perspective to the entire class.

“Let’s not sugarcoat it: You are entering a world where it is increasingly difficult to deliver patient-centric care. Let’s resolve that you will not lose sight of what you wanted to do in the first place. Your future patients are counting on that. You are our best hope for creating a healthier world for all,” he concluded.

Dr. Greenberg’s speech was followed by the presentation of the annual Ho Din Award to Dr. Lauren Elizabeth Kolski. After a transitional year at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Dr. Kolski will begin her residency in diagnostic radiology at UTSW.

The Ho Din Award started in 1943 and recognizes the graduate who most exemplifies the key qualities every physician needs: knowledge, understanding, and compassion. Rena M. Pederson, Trustee with the Southwestern Medical Foundation, presented the award.

Dr. J. Gregory Fitz, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Dean of Southwestern Medical School, presented the degrees. Following UTSW tradition, the President of the Dallas County Medical Society, Dr. John T. Carlo, administered the physician’s oath to the Class of 2017.


– Lin Lofley and Lori Sundeen Soderbergh