Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, June 20, 2001
It’s a whole new ballgame for this year's medical school graduates


Baseball terms were sprinkled throughout the remarks made at Convocation 2001, but families were the most striking visual element of the ceremony.

More than a half-dozen children -- one just 3 days old -- were carried or towed to the podium as mom, dad or both received their degrees from Stanford's School of Medicine. During the sunny Sunday afternoon festivities, diplomas were conferred on 99 MD, 74 PhD and 18 MS recipients. Seven candidates made what Dean Phillip Pizzo, MD, called "a special commitment" by receiving both PhD and MD degrees.

Laura Evenson Furstenthal threw the opening pitch in the baseball analogy during her welcoming remarks on behalf of fellow graduates in the basic sciences. Each science student making the "journey to the big leagues ... has made at least one base hit, often against great odds" to publish and to graduate, she said.

In his welcoming speech to fellow MD graduates, Mark Pomerantz complimented his mentors. "We are shaped each day by watching doctors being doctors."

Pomerantz recalled remarks at his medical school orientation by cancer researcher Saul Rosenberg. He said the now-retired chief of oncology described how he and his colleagues had helped turn Hodgkin's disease from an almost universally fatal illness into a curable one. However, the remark Pomerantz recalled most clearly was Rosenberg's final comment as he left the podium that day: "I am very proud every morning to put on a doctor's white coat."

Elliott Wolfe, MD, associate dean for student affairs, picked up on the baseball analogy as he announced "a triple play" in one family. Wolfe then handed MD diplomas to three members of the Zaritsky family -- brother Joshua, sister Eve, and wife/sister-in-law Karen. The Zaritskys embraced in a three-way hug moments after receiving their diplomas.

Smallest infant honors went to Patricia Santana's 3-day-old son. Older children carried mom's or dad's diploma from the podium. One youngster made the trip twice -- 2-1/2-year-old Arthur first helped his mom, Victoria Trickett, pick up her MD diploma; moments later he collected a diploma for his dad, Frederic Wile.

Eugene A. Bauer, MD, vice president for Stanford Medical Center, served dual functions -- "hooding" MD candidates with their green MD and Stanford red colors -- and offering advice to the graduates and their families in his convocation speech, "Observations on Opportunity: Diseases of Mice and Men."

Taking a "just do it," tone, Bauer told the new physicians and scientists, "since you now have all the other tools, please show up."

The philosophy for successful research and patient treatment "is simple: Provide students with resources, including free access to one's own knowledge, and allow them to formulate the hypotheses and develop experiments. In short, the philosophy is one of opportunity," Bauer said.

Students need facilities, instrumentation, reagents and clinical facilities. "The expectation of the students is one of creativity and hard work," he said.

Pizzo, officiating at his first Stanford convocation, praised Bauer in his former role as dean and his current role as vice president for the medical center. "The medical school became stronger under Bauer's leadership despite the financial pressures" it faced, Pizzo said.