UC medical students to receive degrees at in-person celebration

College of Medicine hosts Honors Day at Fifth Third Arena Sunday, May 23

The journey has been a whirlwind for Sarah Appeadu, but the finish line is in sight. 

The fourth-year medical student will be one of 176 individuals who will receive medical degrees during commencement exercises, also known as Honors Day, for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine set for Sunday, May 23, at Fifth Third Arena. The in-person event requires a ticket along with use of a mask and social distancing.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet that it has been four years since we all started this journey,” says Appeadu. “I think it feels surreal but I am excited to mark that milestone of Honors Day and then transition into what is coming up next.”

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and include remarks from UC President Neville Pinto, PhD, and UC College of Medicine Dean Andrew Filak, MD. Fourth-year medical student Farzaan Kassam will serve as this year’s class speaker. 

Friends and family who are unable to attend the in-person event are invited to watch the live stream, or view a recording of the event, by visiting Fifth Third Arena’s YouTube Channel or the UCCOM Honors Day webpage.

Hooding of the doctor of medicine degrees will be conducted by College of Medicine faculty: Aurora Bennett, MD, associate dean of student affairs; Mia Mallory, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion; Philip Diller, MD, PhD, associate dean for educational affairs; Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, and Kathryn Wikenheiser-Brokamp, MD, PhD, associate director or the Medical Scientist Training Program. 

“Medical school has been marked with highs and a few hurdles as well,” explains student Appeadu. “I think a high for me has been the amazing friends I’ve made, especially the community of black women that I found here, and the support and care we had for each other academically and emotionally. It has meant everything, and I am so thankful for those individuals. It was a high for me being able to be part of so many great organizations.”

Appeadu was active in various student groups including the Student National Medical Association, UC Med Mentors and the Christian Medical Association. “I think there are so many good opportunities to serve and learn from the community which I think is a real strength for the UC College of Medicine,” she says.

Graduating medical students Shawn Krishnan, Cassandra Schoborg and Sarah Appeadu are shown in front of the UC College of Medicine.

Graduating medical students Shawn Krishnan, Cassandra Schoborg and Sarah Appeadu are shown in front of the UC College of Medicine. Photo by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.

She also climbed hurdles during medical school, notably fears about the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination known as STEP 1 and how her score could determine so much of her future including her path to residency. 

“There were so many points where I wanted to give up and throw in the towel because of the amount of weight that these tests have,” says Appeadu. “Even going into third year and being evaluated subjectively also added a lot of stress, the newness of that type of evaluation. The hurdles were definitely very real in medical school, but now we are here and I get it, all the sacrifice and struggles led to this moment.”

Graduates are hoping that investment will make a difference in the lives of so many people they are expecting to see during their careers.

“Medicine is an avenue to provide people understanding, healing and hope,” says Cassandra Schoborg, a fourth-year medical student. “Even when it is unable to prolong life, the doctor-patient relationship is a platform in which we can extend empathy in one of the darkest moments of a patient's life. For me, there is no other job I would rather do.”

Schoborg will train in emergency medicine in Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While at UC she created a free service program in spring 2020 known as “Cincinnati + NKY COVID-19 Match” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It connects younger healthy volunteers who have a lower risk for illness with individuals at severe risk of developing coronavirus and in need of someone to pick up groceries, medications or deliver meals. 

“At UC, I have learned from so many physicians who share their passion for not only treating patients with the evidence-based therapies, but also teach us to be compassionate and truly listen to each human being in our care,” says Schoborg. “As I move on to residency, I can only hope that I will continue to be surrounded by people who inspire me and make me excited to wake up and go to work each day.”

Shawn Krishnan, a fourth-year medical student attending commencement, says the gathering is welcomed as UC and the nation at large navigate a return to in-person activities as vaccines for COVID-19 have become more readily available.

“In a pandemic, everyone’s safety should be of utmost importance,” says Krishnan. “I’m glad the College of Medicine has found a compromise to try to keep everyone safe while giving medical students and their families a chance to celebrate their accomplishments. I have been extremely fortunate and privileged to view the last year and a half as ‘inconvenient,’ while it has been devastating for so many others. There’s a lot of work to be done, and the pandemic has fortified my desire to get started.”

Krishnan will join his fellow medical school graduates who generally start their residencies at health care systems in July. He is headed to San Diego, California, for a combined internal medicine/pediatrics residency. 

“I could not be more excited,” says Krishnan. “Before coming to medical school, I didn't even know this field existed. Now, I have the opportunity to train to treat patients of all ages in both inpatient and outpatient settings. It’s a dream come true.”

Appeadu will begin an emergency medicine residency at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She also is looking forward to learning what other health systems have to offer and the new skill set she hopes to hone. “It will just build on the foundation that I acquired here at UC. I am just excited about what I have learned here, and I know there is still so much more to master,” says Appeadu.

Krishnan, like Appeadu and Schoborg, says it is the vibrant community at UC that he will miss most. He was a volunteer at the Crossroad Health Center, mentored an 11-year-old in the Cincinnati community and was part of a medical Spanish elective in the College of Medicine. Krishnan was among the early volunteers for UC’s Student-Run Free Clinic based in Springfield, Ohio, which offers health care services for uninsured residents in the Tristate.

“It was perhaps my most fulfilling experience at UC and represented the culmination of years of collaboration between medical students, pharmacy students and UC faculty to try to increase access to health care for uninsured patients in our community,” says Krishnan.

“I will forever be thankful for the down-to-earth, collaborative personalities that I have met at UC,” adds Krishnan.

Featured image of medical students Shawn Krishnan, Cassandra Schoborg and Sarah Appeadu in front of the UC College of Medicine.  Photo by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.

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