By Wendy Sarubbi | May 27, 2016 8:12 am

Each graduate had a different story – of challenges they faced, sleepless nights, or times they felt like giving up. But a shared sentiment among the Class of 2016 was gratitude for the overwhelming support they received from the faculty during their four-year journey.

“Everybody really cares about us,” said Dr. Allison Gopaul, who begins her obstetrics and gynecology residency this summer. “They really want us to do well, in our mental health, in our happiness, in everything we do. They’ve been really helpful and they’ve always been there walking along with us.”

Dr. Gopaul was one of 94 physicians who graduated from the UCF College of Medicine on May 20.

For Dr. Farah Dosani, a former health reporter with a limited science background, it was a tough transition from the newsroom to medical school. She too credited the guidance and encouragement she received from faculty in helping her along the way.

“This is the best place to study,” said Dr. Dosani, who was selected by her peers as class speaker for the commencement ceremony and is beginning a neurology residency. “The faculty will support your dreams no matter what they are. I had a wonderful time here and I would highly recommend anyone who wants to go to medical school to come here.”

Making dreams come true part of the culture at the College of Medicine and is often underscored by Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean. As she concluded her commencement address, Dr. German reminded graduates, “Take care of your dreams.”

Dean German speaks with all applicants during their visit to UCF and tells them that the medical school’s mission is to help them achieve their dreams. “My job – and that of our faculty and staff – is to make each of those dreams a reality…To take young, bright, committed young people and help them achieve their dreams,” she said.

That commitment was something many Class of 2016 students reflected upon minutes before they graduated.

“I really enjoyed the faculty support,” said Dr. Amber Hoang, who is going on to specialize in ophthalmology. “I’ve never been in a school where the faculty really cared about us this much.”

“The school has been very supportive,” said Dr. Daniel Castillo who is doing a pediatric residency in Charlotte, N.C. “I made some great connections here and so it’s kind of sad that everyone will be going their separate ways.”

Dr. Elissa Engel, a former nurse, found a mentor and role model in Dr. Judy Simms-Cendan, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Engel worked with Dr. Simms-Cendan on community outreach projects such as the student-run free KNIGHTS Clinic at Orlando’s Grace Medical Home and on a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Both are supported by the Diebel Legacy Fund at Central Florida Foundation.

“She is just such a role model for me as far as how I want to be in my personal and professional life,” Dr. Engel shared.

For former health reporter Dr. Dosani, who regularly interviewed doctors and dared to dream of one day being on other side of the microphone, her message for aspiring medical students is simple – just do it. “It’s going to get tough, you’re going to think you’re not going to be able to do it. But you are. You’re going to be able to do it, and you’re going to be in the exact same position that I am. Whatever you are trying to achieve, just keep moving toward it.”

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