By Eric Eraso | May 8, 2024 4:34 pm

The M.D. Class of 2024 gathered for the last time before commencement at Class Day on May 3 – a celebration of their four years together training to become physicians.  It was the class’ last event before graduation on May 17.

“You led by example and brought to life our new medical school,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for health affairs and medical school dean in her opening remarks. “You helped the UCF College of Medicine establish a national and an international reputation. You set the bar high for those who will follow you in the classroom, the laboratory, the clinic and the community.”

Each of the 117 seniors placed into residency programs, meaning they will leave UCF as Physician Knights and enter graduate medical education training across the nation and state in their chosen specialty.

Known as “The COVID Class,” the students entered medical school in the fall of 2020 during the height of the pandemic. They took classes virtually so they had little opportunity to meet many of their peers.

But according to the soon-to-be graduate Brittany Perry, the pandemic didn’t lessen their bond.

“After two years of working together virtually, we didn’t know what to expect when we finally met in person,” said Perry, who will go to Emory University for her residency in Pediatrics. “But what we found is that the pandemic gave us all something in common, we all lived through a shared experience and in sharing those emotions we were brought together.”

As part of Class Day, the students each received a special gift –a picture of the Medical Education Building in Lake Nona, and the letter each student had written  to themselves on their first week of medical school. A College of Medicine tradition is that the letters are saved  and then given back to the students just before they graduate.

“When I opened the letter and read the message to myself about asking how I am and if I’m happy, it felt like a different person was addressing me,” said Ashley Su, who matched into a Neurology residency at Riverside University Medical Center in California.  “I’m in marvel at how far I’ve come and look forward to the person and physician I’ll become in the future.”

Included in Class Day are achievement awards for performance in academics, specific disciplines and community engagement.

For Thomas Knapp, who received four awards, the recognition was a reminder of the support he received along the way. “I never thought I would be here. As the first in my family to go into medicine, I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” said Knapp, who will do his Thoracic Surgery residency at the University of Utah.  “But through a super supportive faculty and the support of my friends I am where I am today.”

The UCF College of Medicine Commencement will take place Friday, May 17 at 10 AM. The event will be streamed live on the medical school’s YouTube channel and Facebook pages.

Class Day Awards:

Outstanding Senior in Internal Medicine – Dalia Husainy

Outstanding Senior in Family Medicine – Catalina Hernandez

Outstanding Senior in Neurology – Ashley Su

Outstanding Senior in Obstetrics and Gynecology – Erin Duffey

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District XII Award – Erin Duffey and Meer Sajida Hossain

Outstanding Senior in Pediatrics – Samuel Mikhail

Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Award – Lauren Aronson

Outstanding Senior in Psychiatry – Caitlyn Coates

Outstanding Senior in Surgery – Yamilet Gonzalez

Academic Excellence Awardees:

Nicholas Buchanan

Yasmine Ghattas

Nickolas Kessler

Thomas Knapp

Cynthia Kyin

Emily Littman

Michael Rohr

Jordan Saag

Hannah Sage

Justin Taylor

Merck Manual Award – Thomas Knapp and Emily Littman

United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award – Carolyn Rapp

Faculty Choice Award – Angela Lo and Samuel Mikhail

Student Choice Award – Pierce Ciccone

Osler Award – Benjamin Daines

Service and Humanity in Medicine Award – Brittany Perry

Distinguished Community Service Award – Thomas Knapp

Excellence in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Medicine Award – Kailee Hernandez

Dean’s Award – Thomas Knapp and Emily Littman

Hippocratic Oath Award – Dr. Marcy Verduin

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