Second Class of Medical Students Graduate from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine at Harlem's Famed Apollo Theater

Date: June 06, 2012
Dr. Hazel N. Dukes
Dr. Hazel N. Dukes
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Civil Rights Activist Dr. Hazel N. Dukes Receives Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Members of Tony Award-Winning Musical “MEMPHIS” Perform and Present Check for Minority Scholarship Fund.

New York, N.Y. – In a commencement ceremony that had the audience clapping to tunes from a Broadway musical, 131 candidates for the doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree received their diplomas on June 5 from the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) in Harlem. Also graduating were numerous candidates receiving Master of Science and Interdisciplinary Studies degrees.

Congressman Charles Rangel, who represents Harlem, introduced civil rights activist Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, who received the College’s first honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Dr. Alan Kadish, president and CEO of the Touro College and University System.

In presenting the honorary doctorate, Dr. Kadish first thanked Congressman Rangel for his support of the school and then Dr. Dukes for her commitment to improve human rights and equality. “I can’t imagine a more deserving first recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Dr. Kadish said.

Dr. Kadish praised the graduates for serving the health care needs of Harlem through their work in community clinics and outreach programs including in the public schools - a cornerstone of TouroCOM’s mission.

“Serving underrepresented communities is a noble tradition in medicine,” the president said. “Your talent and perseverance are tremendous assets that you all should be proud of. Continue to use your talents wisely in service to humanity – use your education to serve your communities, our society and our world.”

But at the center of the afternoon’s program were the students, who proudly took the stage and announced their future plans. Over half the class will enter primary care residencies, helping to fill the nation’s gap in primary care medicine and many will be in top programs across the U.S. including the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and New York University Medical Center. Several students and administrators received accolades and awards for their achievements.

The event was a unique celebration in many ways. Five military students were commissioned in uniform by a Colonel in the United States Army; cast members of the Broadway musical MEMPHIS performed, and donated a $5,000 check for scholarships for underrepresented minorities – to be matched by Drs. Kadish and Dean Robert Goldberg, DO; and the Class of 2012’s student speaker, Peter Lee, performed a short breakdance popularized by pop star Michael Jackson, who had performed at the Apollo. He delivered inspiring remarks to his fellow graduates, thanking them for their compassion and genuine care for others and reminding them of their important mission that lies ahead.

Mr. Lee advised the graduates not just to treat patients physically but also mentally and spiritually, and offer hope and inspiration to increase their faith in their doctors as well as in themselves during a time of need.

“Anyone can find sickness. The purpose of a physician is to find health. Find that health, find their hope, and treat that sickness,” he said.

Dean Goldberg told the students, "TouroCOM has prepared you with the rigors of academia, but much more importantly we have encouraged each of you to explore your potential within. You’ve cultivated that spark – keep it alive.”

Since its founding in 2007, The Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine has dedicated itself to encouraging minorities to enter medicine and to increasing the number of primary care physicians. The number of underrepresented minorities graduating TouroCOM is twice the average number for colleges of osteopathic medicine.