On June 4th, American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine held its 2010 Commencement Ceremony at the Grand Hyatt New York in Manhattan.

This was AUA’s largest graduating class. The graduating class size is double that of last year, reflecting the ever-growing number of qualified students at AUA.

In his address, AUA President Neal Simon (pictured above) noted that graduates have earned the responsibility and gravitas associated with being a physician. However, with this responsibility, he asked them to turn to philanthropy. He advised graduates to, “Heal the globe of its ills, both social and medical. This class has a remarkable opportunity to solve inequity throughout the world.”  He added, “Your success is our success.”

AUA graduates secured placement in residency programs across the United States and Canada at leading hospitals including The New York Hospital Medical Center, New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, Boston’s Tufts Medical Center, Detroit’s Henry Ford Health Science Center, and The University of Toronto.

The valedictory address was given by Jena Zakhary. She thanked AUA, her friends, family and classmates for giving her the support system she needed to excel at AUA.  Jena received honors in clerkships for Psychiatry, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Radiology, Family Practice, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Emergency Medicine, Hematology, and Cardiology.  She matched at the prestigious University of Toronto, specializing in Family Medicine. Dr. Zakahry is the kind of student AUA was engendered to serve and was also featured in our “Future of Medicine” series.

Abhishek Patel, AUA’s Salutatorian, proclaimed that he was proud to be a part of this exceptional class. He added that “If it weren’t for my mom finding AUA on Google, I wouldn’t be here today.”

AUA University Provost, Dr. Seymour Schwartz discussed how graduates will not stop learning after they enter their respective medical fields. He explained how procedures that were once considered commonplace are now defunct. He asserted that “Your life experiences as a physician will teach you more than a classroom can.”

Keynote speaker U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York, who has been a staunch advocate of international medical schools, commended the students, parents, friends, and faculty. She spoke of the newly passed health insurance legislation that allows students to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26—the line elicited sighs of relief from the audience. She commended this class’ decision to go to medical school which she believes was an investment in their individual futures and the collective future of the United States. Congresswoman Clarke said that it was evident in the speeches made by the other dignitaries like Dr. Peter Bell and Provost Seymour Schwartz, that AUA had created an excellent learning environment.

Upon leaving the ceremony, students filed out in their hooded robes and celebrated with family and friends at the reception which capped this momentous day. Many of them will soon begin their residencies. Their lives may be so busy that they may forget what happened at the 2010 Commencement. However, they will never forget that they came from AUA.