By Wendy Sarubbi | May 19, 2014 2:39 pm

As he prepared to hood the 40th UCF College of Medicine graduate, Dr. Charles Reilly fought back tears — without success. This student, in the young college’s second class, was his son, Chris. With an emotional bear hug on stage, the father, assistant to the provost and a Ph.D. in engineering, welcomed another doctor to the family.

Traditionally, the university provost helps Dr. Richard Peppler, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, hood medical school graduates before they receive their diploma from Dean Deborah German. But UCF is currently without a provost and the interim provost had a family graduation of her own to attend. Dr. Reilly was selected to perform the task.

“It’s difficult to find the words to describe having Dad up there with me,” said Chris, who graduated with honors from UCF’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences before entering medical school. “It couldn’t have been better.”

Chris now attends residency training in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He said he chose that specialty because he loves “treating patients as a whole.” He may seek further training in hematology/oncology to help people with cancer. Chris said his medical school scholarship, from The Galloway Foundation, allowed him to follow his heart when picking his medical career. He didn’t have to pick a lucrative specialty just to pay back his massive student debt.

Internal medicine seems to be a perfect fit for him.

On Class Day 2014, two days before graduation, Chris received the Outstanding Senior in Internal/Family Medicine Award, where clerkship directors praised his caring, intelligent approach to patients and commitment to their care. He also was one of six students to earn a College of Medicine Academic Excellence Award.

As the father and son stood outside the Venue Friday and reflected on graduation, Dr. Reilly spoke emotionally about the medical school memories they had shared, including the first time Chris had helped deliver a baby. Then he choked up again. “I can’t talk,” he said, giving up on words to express his feelings. “It’s just a great day.”

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