AUC Celebrates Nearly 400 Graduates at 2019 Commencement
Dr. Shlee Song, 2003 graduate of AUC and Director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Stroke Center, delivers the 2019 keynote address.
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) celebrated nearly 400 graduates during its 2019 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18. The event, held at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, drew more than 2,800, attendees, including graduates, friends and family, and faculty leaders from the university’s medical sciences campus in Sint Maarten.
Dr. Mark Quirk, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, presided over the ceremony. Throughout the evening he introduced speakers—many of whom were themselves graduates of AUC—who offered words of encouragement and advice. Keynote speaker Dr. Shlee Song, a 2003 AUC graduate and the current Director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Stroke Center, reminisced about her time in Sint Maarten and how those formative years prepared her to lead one of the busiest stroke centers in the country.
“AUC really teaches you to bloom where you’re planted,” she said. “You will be put in uncomfortable situations—hard situations—during your intern year. But rely on the incredible education you’ve received and the experiences you’ve shared. Think about the impact you are making on your personal story and with your patient. Remember this day and your commitment to becoming an MD.”
Special Awards and Recognition
Six graduates received special recognition for their academic accomplishments and commitment to university and community service. The Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, which is granted to select graduates who maintained a GPA of 94 or above during medical school, went to:
- Dr. Michael Kastner, Emergency Medicine Resident at Inspira Medical Center in Woodbury, NJ
- Dr. Samuel Malian, Psychiatry Resident at the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University in Detroit, MI
Dr. Julie Taylor, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, poses with Michael Kastner (left) and Samuel Malian (right).
The Excellence in Community and University Service Award, which is given to graduates with exemplary records of service to both AUC and their surrounding communities, was presented to:
- Dr. Rebecca Gerrity, Medicine-Pediatrics Resident at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, TN
- Dr. Chinedu Obi, Neurology Resident at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO
- Dr. Elizabeth Swezey, General Surgery Resident at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY
- Dr. Stephanie Tancer, Internal Medicine Resident at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI
Dr. Golden Jackson, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement, poses with Rebecca Gerrity, Chinedu Obi, Elizabeth Swezey, and Stephanie Tancer.
Graduates, whose community work included tutoring, youth mentorship, cleanup and beautification efforts, charitable projects, food bank assistance, and HIV screening events, demonstrate AUC’s mission to train service-oriented physicians whose learning is advanced through social accountability and engagement.
Joining an Expansive Alumni Network
The Class of 2019 joins a growing alumni network of 7,000+ physicians worldwide. Dr. Hovig Artinian, a 2010 graduate and member of the Alumni Association Board, took to the stage to officially welcome graduates into the Alumni Association.
“You join a proud alumni group,” he said. A group of doctors that don’t give up. A group of doctors that always finds a way to do the right thing and help their patients find the best path forward. Remember that being an AUC doctor is a privilege for you and a blessing for your patients.”
Graduates will now head to 40 U.S. states and Canada to begin their residency training. This year, 90 percent of first-time eligible graduates secured a residency position—one of the strongest residency attainment rates in AUC’s history. They will enter 18 different specialties with the majority filling critically needed primary care positions in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics.