Dean Peter J. Awn welcomed the graduates and introduced the Class Day Keynote Speaker, Dr. Martha G. Welch, MD. Welch is Associate Professor of Psychiatry in Pediatrics and Pathology & Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center, where she is also Co-Director of the Nurture Science Program. Her research focuses on the biological mechanisms of nurture and the ways they can be utilized to provide new interventions for the prevention and treatment of developmental and behavioral disorders.
“I was a non-traditional student, and now I’m a non-traditional scientist," Welch said.
Thanks to her non-traditional path, Welch vouches that she was able to endure all “naysaying,” citing the keys to success as “drive, persistence, curiosity, and courage”, qualities she recognized in the graduating class. Welch elaborated on her unique path, having majored in French and obtaining her real estate license while studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree at New York University. Welch also successfully published Holding Time in 1989, discussing the profound results of physical nurture on children with autism and behavioral problems.
Welch joined the Columbia faculty in congratulating the graduates as each was presented by Andrew Sunshine, Director of the Postbac Premed Program.
Following the presentation of graduates, the student address was delivered by Ryan Brummond, a 35-year-old Green Beret and Bronze star recipient who plans to become a family doctor. Brummond explained how the Special Forces instills a respect for team work. It is that belief in team spirit that Brummond passed on to his classmates.
“At the hardest of times, we are far better together than as individuals,” Brummond said.
In closing remarks, Peter J. Awn, Dean of the School of General Studies, thanked the graduating class for their extraordinary humanity, and encouraged students to remain engaged with each other as alumni and contemporary professionals.
“We look forward to cheering you on as you continue your journey,” Awn said.
Having successfully completed the Program, graduates will take several different paths to realizing their futures in medicine. Some will complete their glide year before entering medical school, while others will begin medical school in the fall at one of the 14 medical schools with which Columbia maintains a linkage agreement.
In his final comment, quoting A.A. Milne, Brummond best captured the event and the Postbac Premed Program.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”