2017 Graduates Celebrated at Postbac Premed Class Day Ceremony

The graduates of the Columbia Postbac Premed Program celebrated Class Day on May 12 in Low Memorial Library. Faculty, administrators, fellow students, friends, and family honored the 112 graduates for completing this important step on their journey to medical school and beyond.

May 24, 2017

Dean Peter J. Awn welcomed the graduates and introduced the Class Day keynote speaker, Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, MD. Hutcherson is currently a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

As Senior Associate Dean, she has worked to increase the enrollment of underrepresented minorities at Columbia P&S from eight percent in 2002 to 22 percent today. She is also a two-time recipient of the Gender Equity Teaching Award at P&S and was honored with the 2016 Columbia P&S Award for Excellence.

Hutcherson encouraged graduates to practice self-care and engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation, emphasizing the importance of work-life balance as well as nourishment and exercise.

“As future medical students I implore you to find your ‘medical voice’ and use it for good,” Hutcherson said.

A proponent of women’s empowerment and education, Hutcherson has made contributions as a contributing editor at Redbook, as well as a former columnist for Glamour and Essence and the author of three books. She has been named one of America’s Leading Physicians by Black Enterprise, one of the Top Doctors in New York by the Castle Connolly Guide, and is included in the Best Doctors in America database.

Hutcherson 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 William “Billy” Buffington IV, an NCAA Division I track and field athlete and a USCSA All-American ski racer. In his speech to fellow graduates, he reflected on the support that he found from the community during his time as a Postbac Premed student.

In spite of all of these differences we are all fiercely united by one all-important and all-consuming cause to use everything we have learned inside and outside the classroom to help alleviate suffering.

William “Billy” Buffington IV

Buffington entered the Postbac Premed Program in the spring of 2016 and has been on the Dean’s List for the entirety of his enrollment. Following completion of the Program, he will spend his glide year working at Parsley Health, a medical practice in New York City, while applying to medical school for fall 2018 matriculation.

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 15 medical schools with which Columbia maintains a linkage agreement.

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.