This year’s American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA) Commencement Ceremony took place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on May 26 and was attended by over 2,000 guests, including graduates, their families, and friends.

The Class of 2022 was made up of over 200 new graduates—21.6% of whom identified as African American, with 8.3% identifying as Hispanic—who will contribute to easing the physician shortage as well as adding diversity to the medical profession at a time when the lack of diversity is well recognized as having a negative impact on healthcare in the United States.

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. who represents New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District and who is the co-chair and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, was the keynote speaker. Congressman Pascrell commented on the diversity of AUA graduates and the importance of diversity in medicine. Congressman Pascrell lauded AUA’s graduates for their resilience, dedication and passion for the practice of medicine. He urged them to be proud, not just for their achievements but of who they are as individuals, and what they can achieve as newly minted physicians.

“You carry with you the pride of your communities and their collected hope for the future. You are seeking not fame, not profit, not glory, but the well-being of our neighbors and the health of our country,” he told graduates. “We are counting on you to help us rebuild a workforce focused on efficiency, prevention wellness and coordination.”

In addition to Congressman Pascrell, Jr., graduates heard from several other speakers including alumna Dr. Melanie Nukala, a board certified general and vascular surgeon; class valedictorian Dr. Megan Brooker—who will begin her residency in general surgery at Western Reserve Health Education/Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED)—and other members of the College of Medicine faculty and administration.

The ceremony concluded with the recitation of the Hippocratic Oath by the new graduates and other physicians in attendance.