June 21, 2024

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Class of 2024 Celebrated at Carnegie Hall Commencement | Newsroom

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Video of Class of 2024 Commencement Highlights | Weill Cornell Medicine

For Dr. Chris Chang, pursuing a career in medicine meant the opportunity to help people, particularly those in underserved communities. Originally from Korea, he moved to the United States when he was five years old, and health care inequity was something he witnessed firsthand.

“I moved around a lot between New Jersey and parts of New York City, but all the neighborhoods we lived in had one common factor: immigrant families who were building a new life,” he said. “I grew up thinking that medicine was a luxury, not for people in my community.”

He recognized the invisible barriers that deter people from seeking medical care, such as language and cultural and economic obstacles. “Wanting to address these challenges drove me into medicine,” said Dr. Chang, who will be doing his residency in radiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

He is also grateful for the superior mentorship that helped him reach his goals, including opportunities to work on independent research projects and help run a community clinic. “Weill Cornell Medicine supported me in every way, so I was able to pursue my dreams,” he said.

Dr. Chang was among 389 expected graduates – 109 medical doctors, 46 physician assistants, 80 with doctorates and 154 with master of science degrees – in the Class of 2024 who received their degrees from Weill Cornell Medicine during the institution’s annual commencement ceremony on May 16 at Carnegie Hall. 

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Graduating medical students take the Hippocratic Oath at the ceremony.

Cornell President Martha E. Pollack joined Deans Robert Harrington and Barbara Hempstead in conferring degrees on students graduating from Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Graduates crossed the Perelman Stage to receive their diplomas in front of an audience of cheering classmates, family and friends.

Dr. Robert A. Harrington, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, noted that the Class of 2024 joins a distinguished body of alumni, outlining the many paths that lay before them in their professional endeavors.  

“You will be healers, helpers, even heroes sometimes, in your communities,” he said. “You will harness new powers of science, teamwork and innovation to make discoveries that will last a lifetime. You will show humanity, curiosity and earn the trust of your community – and you will always stand for justice. You will empower individuals and families, adding longevity to their journeys.”

Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar also celebrated 50 graduates during its commencement ceremony on May 9, with Dean Harrington and other Weill Cornell Medicine leaders in attendance.

With their formal education complete, members of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Class of 2024 will now embark on residencies, fellowships and postdoctoral positions, as they advance to careers as physicians, scientists, physician assistants and leaders in health care.

In her address, President Pollack reflected on Cornell University founder Ezra Cornell and his vision for an institution that would “do the greatest good” – a legacy now carried on by the graduating class.

“The students graduating today carry forward that drive and that mission, each in their own way: advancing knowledge and science, education and training, healing and care,” she said. “Wherever each of you goes from here, whatever path your lives and careers take, each of you brings with you that tradition and that drive, to do the greatest good.” 

Dr. Hempstead, dean of Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, said that the graduates are now “part of a chain,” joining previous generations of scientists who made groundbreaking discoveries that are now the “established, foundational building blocks, which you so nimbly and routinely use.” 

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Ph.D. graduates Drs. Christopher Chin, Briana Christophers, Broderick Cameron Corless and Andrew Wayne Daman enjoy the moment at Carnegie Hall. Click image for full commencement photo gallery.

“Your transformational discoveries will become the foundation for subsequent generations,” she said. “Please continue to challenge yourself, and just as importantly, those who you in turn will mentor and teach, to take us even farther – with more discoveries, for the betterment of society.”

For graduate school speaker Dr. Chloe Lopez-Lee, who is continuing on at Weill Cornell Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow, studying the effects of biological sex on neurodegeneration, the motivating factor for the work remains a constant.  

“Despite the highly technical nature of graduate school, one thing has been made clear to me again and again over the past few years: People are the most important thing,” she said. “I have spoken to so many of you who came into this journey because you watched a friend, family member or loved one battle with a disease. Each of you saw an area of dire need and instead of standing by, stood up and said, ‘I’m going to help fix this.’”

In her remarks, medical school speaker Dr. Diksha Ashwin Brahmbhatt, who will be doing her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, outlined the shift that happens for students after graduation – from academic achievements and the pursuit of opportunities that “lie on the conventional path to success” to experiences in the real world.

“After today, there will be no grades to signal if we are veering from this path,” she said. “I hope we can recalibrate our individual moral compasses to guide us, to tell us that we are on track to serving our communities and centering humanistic principles.”

Photos by Amelia Panico and Lorraine Corsale.

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