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Graduation 2022: Resilience through it all

455 physicians graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine on Friday, May 13, 2022. This class of physicians completed their whole clinical experience through the COVID-19 pandemic, learning to be resilient through the trials with grace and persistence.

“You’ve shown remarkable professionalism and resilience throughout your time with us, not only in completing your degrees, but also in contributing to keeping our community safe—whether through gathering PPE for frontline workers, serving as contact tracers, giving vaccinations, caring for patients and in countless other ways–your compassion, determination and grit shined,” said IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA. “Many of you also stepped up to lead as our nation confronted issues of systemic racism. You used your collective voice to amplify the voices of those who historically have been marginalized. And you have worked alongside our school’s leadership on task forces and other initiatives to improve diversity, equity and inclusion—making sure your class did its part to make IU School of Medicine more welcoming and inclusive for future students.”

Some of these outstanding medical professionals now share their feelings about their graduation.

Chiamara Anokwute

Specialty: Emergency Medicine/Pediatrics
Match Location: IU School of Medicine
Hometown: Merrillville, IN

How do you feel about graduation?
I’m proud to be continuing this journey through medicine with my now physician colleagues. We’ve worked so hard to get where we are, and there is so much more we will still accomplish. For now, we get to celebrate these four years that have been built upon the investments of ourselves and the countless individuals who supported along the journey.

You navigated med school through a pandemic and many other challenges, what kept you going when things were tough?
Faith, family, and friends made the difference through the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, I was still able to interact with family, helping assist with my newborn nephew, and foster friendships, old and new. I found a church and a community through volunteer efforts with their children’s ministry. All in all, life still goes on and we must still go on living.

What are you most looking forward to in residency?
I most look forward to growing as a physician. I couldn’t have imagined myself now when I started medical school, and I can’t wait to see who I become throughout residency. I have five years to create that person, and I find the prospect exciting!

What's been the highlight of your time at IU School of Medicine?
Serving on the Medical Student Council (MSC) has been the highlight of my time at IU School of Medicine. The MSC was a strong advocate for student well-being. Participating and contributing to those efforts as a representative of the Northwest-Gary campus was my springboard into further advocacy efforts within the specialty of Emergency Medicine.

Is there any faculty member who has particularly inspired you and encouraged you along the way?
Dr. Taeok Bae, a microbiologist and faculty of the Northwest-Gary campus was my research mentor through the latter half of my undergraduate education. He continued to support me as I matriculated into medical school by mentoring and advising me on how to succeed. He exemplified not only the work-ethic I would need to succeed but also the importance of self-care.

Andrea Gonzalez

Hometown: Pembroke Pines, Fl
Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Match location: University of Illinois- Chicago


How do you feel about graduation?

I am feeling so many different emotions - but I am mostly proud! This is something that I and all my classmates have worked so hard to achieve, and we are finally here! Not even counting all the work we put in to getting into medical school, we all have put in so much effort (during a pandemic!!) and that is something to be so proud of.

You navigated med school through a pandemic and many other challenges, what kept you going when things were tough?
My family and friends kept me going. They were always available to listen to me when I was stressed and worried. They were a constant reminder that things were going to be okay and that they were proud of me every step of the way.

What are you most looking forward to in residency?
While also what I am most nervous for, I am most looking forward to the increase in responsibility during residency. I am also very excited to finally be practicing in the field that I am most passionate about.

What's been the highlight of your time at IU school of medicine?
I can’t think of one singular highlight during my time at IU. I grew so much as an individual and as a professional because of the people I met and the opportunities I had while as a student at IU School of Medicine. I think the sweetest take away from medical school will be the friends that I met along the way.

Is there any faculty member who has particularly inspired you and encouraged you along the way?
Dr. Emily Walvoord is someone who has supported and encouraged me along the way since the very first day of medical school. Her office door has always been open, and she has always greeted me with a big hug and a smile. I will always be grateful for the Thanksgiving where she hosted a couple other out of state medical students for dinner. My time at IU would not be the same without her!

Alison Schmidt

Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan
Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Match location: University of Michigan

How do you feel about graduation?
It all still feels a little surreal – the time went by so fast. I don’t think it will fully settle in until we walk across the stage, but I feel so proud of my classmates, friends, and myself for getting here.

You navigated med school through a pandemic and many other challenges, what kept you going when things were tough?
Learning to lean on support people is so important as you go through medical school. My husband, my friends, and my family all played such a huge role in keeping me motivated and sane. I learned early on through the Mind Body Medicine elective offered at IU School of Medicine what a difference vulnerability and honesty with peers, self-kindness and forgiveness, and gratitude can make during challenging times.

What are you most looking forward to in residency?
I’m excited to get to follow patients through their care, from routine gynecologic to prenatal to labor and delivery. Getting to be a part of someone’s life and family in that way is such an honor in medicine and I’m excited to cultivate those relationships!

What's been the highlight of your time at IU school of medicine?
I think probably Match Day and all the exciting parts of fourth year leading up to it. It was such an uncertain time, but really strengthened my friendships as we navigated it together. It was so nice to be able to celebrate together in person as we learned about this next stage in our lives and careers.

Is there any faculty member who has particularly inspired you and encouraged you along the way?
I feel fortunate that I’ve had many excellent mentors throughout these last four years. Dr. Emily Walvoord in Medical Student Education (MSE) was a great role model, a kind and thoughtful confidant, and a motivating cheerleader. Dr. Anthony Shanks in the OBGYN department led a mentorship program for myself and my peers that helped me tremendously, and he has been an inspiration for the kind of physician, researcher, and medical educator I hope to be!

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Author

Megan Stephens

Megan is a communications specialist in Medical Student Education. She calls herself a storyteller, having worked with many publications and companies to write engaging, creative, and compelling content. Before joining IU School of Medicine in March 2022, she worked as assistant editor of communications at IU School of Dentistry, content manager at an Indianapolis-based content marketing company, and a freelance writer.