Reflections from the Dean: Congratulations to the Class of 2021

News & Events



From pre-school to medical school, spring is the season of commencement ceremonies. This is a spring like no other, poised between snow and warmth, and teetering on the finest line between the pandemic and a new, yet-to-be-defined normal.

Our graduating students and residents have had educational and training experiences so unusual — stressful, exhilarating, exhausting — that one has to look back 80 years or more, to WWII, to find similar experiences. Looking back over the last year, as the pandemic hit and we shut down for what would become three months off our medical students' clerkships, they no doubt thought their medical careers were ruined. But the enduring commitment to excellence by UNR Med medical educators, physicians, scientists and staff members prevailed, as did the students' resilience. There are many ways to produce outstanding physicians, and these students are as well-educated and ready for further training as any prior class.

In this year like no other, our hooding ceremony was like no other. We deeply wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, but in a way that was safe, set a good example as a health care institution and complied with the constantly changing, sometimes inconsistent and deeply stressful gathering limitations and regulations.

The result was a partially in person, partially virtual, hybrid Doctor of Medicine Academic Hooding Ceremony Viewing and Celebration — organized around another creative virtual ceremony with added opportunities for student socialization, the distribution of diplomas, and the receipt of good wishes from a small contingent of educational leaders. Our residency programs are pursuing similar programs on a smaller scale.

We understand that this in-person and virtual hybrid ceremony wasn't the way students and residents wanted to celebrate. Our educational and events leaders applied their considerable energy and creativity to make this celebration as memorable as possible. Regardless of how we celebrated, it is student and resident accomplishments — what it took to get here and where they will go from here — that are really important.

During the Hooding ceremony, I asked our medical students to think back to when they began this journey called medical school — our greetings on the first morning of orientation week, the new bonds formed with classmates, Family Day, pancakes and the very moving White Coat ceremony. At that point, the medical school road ahead probably felt endless. And yet here they are, at the end of this first critical phase of medical education and looking ahead to the future.

Commencement, as the word itself is defined, is truly just the beginning — the beginning of a lifetime of informal learning, practice and professional satisfaction.

As our students and residents leave here, the next phases of their careers are just beginning. There are patients waiting for their compassion and humanism. There are students, residents and colleagues waiting for their mentorship. There are communities, hospitals and clinics waiting for their leadership.

And there is a School of Medicine waiting for their service as ambassadors, to show the world how our values, history and traditions have influenced their professional and personal lives.

Graduation is a time of great celebration, with just a touch of bittersweet. We are sad that these students and residents are leaving, but so proud to welcome them as alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. We are happy for them, for their success and for the excitement and satisfaction they will experience in their professional life to come.

I offer my congratulations to the Class of 2021 on behalf of the entire University of Nevada, Reno community — our faculty and staff members, community partners, friends and supporters and the Nevada System of Higher Education — all of whom have contributed to the education and training of these physicians!

I hope these students and residents graduate with pride in their training and experiences. Above all, I hope they know how committed we are to continuing our tradition of outstanding medical education, so they are always proud to say that they were educated and trained at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen, MPA
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Monday May 17, 2021 @ 4:00 PM