University of Kentucky College of Medicine Welcomes Incoming Students in White Coat Ceremony

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2017) – The University of Kentucky College of Medicine welcomed 136 new students on Friday, July 28, with a special White Coat Ceremony at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts.

In front of more than 800 family, friends, faculty, and guests, incoming students participated in ceremonial event that culminated four days of orientation activities and marked the beginning of their medical education. The Class of 2021 will spend the next four years pursuing their dreams of becoming physicians.

“Today marks the beginning of a journey and the well-deserved privilege to change the landscape of health care and improve wellness of patients,” said Robert S. DiPaola, MD, dean of the College of Medicine, during his keynote address titled “A Journey with Purpose.”

He described the symbolism of a white coat and emphasized principles that the incoming class should keep top of mind throughout their medical education including “a focus on science and evidence.” Dean DiPaola also directed students to use compassion in all interactions. “Have warmth, sympathy, and compassion. Always understand the person in front of you is in need and care for them as you would want someone to care for your most loved family member,” he said.

Earlier in the week, first-year students completed orientation activities designed to acquaint them to the medical campus. In addition to lectures, tours, and presentations, students also participated in Resilient Small Group sessions designed to orient them to their school community and classmates, develop support networks, and expose them to the resources available through Resilient MD.

Incoming students bring unique perspectives to the class as a result of their wealth of life experiences.  The Class of 2021 includes a US Navy Corpsman, an Olympic fencer, a pharmacist, farmers, therapeutic horseback riding instructors, and social justice advocates. It also includes 42 students from Kentucky, 12 out-of-state students, six international students, and 16 students born or educated outside the U.S.

Hussain Siddiqi from Lexington, KY became interested in medicine in high school after shadowing in various hospitals and clinics. “Witnessing the electric atmosphere of the hospital, along with the genuine relationships between physicians and patients was extremely compelling,” he said. “Seeing the concern from loved ones of the patients inspired me to commit myself to a career in medicine where I could alleviate some of that pain and suffering.” Siddiqi attended Transylvania University and majored in Biology and Spanish Language and Literature. He’s considering cardiology and hopes to join Doctors Without Borders to treat patients at home and abroad.

Ray Mirembo from Nairobi, Kenya says his mentor, a College of Medicine alum, helped guide his path to medical education. “Meeting Dr. Andrew Mutiso was the turning point in my life,” he said. “I was on the brink being kicked out of school for lack of fees. He took me under his wings and guided me to this point in my life. I would have never gotten where I am without his constant guidance and support. Dr. Mutiso showed me what it means to be a doctor taking care of your community, not just clinically but also through socioeconomic initiatives.” Mirembo attended Berea University and majored in Biology.

Lee Keifer, a Lexington, Ky native said the community-oriented environment attracted her to UK. “I am excited to be here, learn new skills as well as engage with fellow health care practitioners and patients,” she said. Keifer earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Notre Dame. She is also an Olympic fencer and most recently competed in the Senior World Championships in Leipzig, Germany.

After the cloaking, Charles H. Griffith, III, MD, vice dean for education, and the medical school class presidents, led the incoming class through the Pledge of Professionalism. Students and their families attended a light reception following the ceremony. 

To view photos from the week, click here.