“Our Calling is to Care for One Another:” Celebrating the Class of 2023

On January 28, 2021, the UVM Larner College of Medicine celebrated the achievements of the Class of 2023 as they finished the first level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum. The online Foundations Celebration also recognized the faculty and staff who have supported them. Student Council representative Vinh Le ‘23 delivered the Foundations Celebration speech, highlighting the students’ collective accomplishments over the past 18 months of their medical school careers. The following are his remarks: 

Vinh Le ’23

What a privilege it is today to celebrate a major milestone. We’ve reached the end of our Foundations curriculum, and we’re at last ready to begin the clinical portion of our medical school journey.

As we prepare to begin this next stage, let’s take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come. Over the past 18 months, we as a class have attended hundreds of sessions, conquered 49 TBLs, taken 306 readiness quizzes, and completed 34 major exams. We’ve studied in MedEd rooms, at the Dana Medical Library, in the anatomy lab, and in our apartments and homes. We’ve led and improved over 60 student interest groups, achieved a historic LCME reaccreditation milestone, and served our community on local and national levels during this pandemic.

Beyond that, we’ve truly bonded as a family, as a medical team that has rallied around the noble calling of service without sacrificing our individual contributions. Indeed, while all of us share a common bond in the toil and persistence it took to earn these seats, our stories are unique.

We are EMTs and paramedics, chefs and laborers, lawyers and engineers, scribes and researchers, artists and musicians, recent college graduates and lifelong learners.

Yet it feels like we’ve been together for so much longer. We’ve shared weighty moments like the white coat ceremony and the minute of silence to honor those who donated their bodies for our knowledge. We’ve also had moments of great laughter and fun – attending dances and costume parties, bringing food into class, hiking and skiing and climbing, cheering each other on at the soccer field, bonding over favorite TV shows, or even just watching the sunset at Lake Champlain.

These are moments that I will always cherish, and I hope you will as well. Yet there’s no denying that we’ve been through difficult times. The loss of Collins has created a gaping hole in our hearts. We grieve with his family and continue to remember the impact he had on all of us. Our hearts also go out to friends and family and loved ones who are suffering during this time, whether because of the pandemic or other circumstances. It has been so difficult to be learning remotely and isolated from the rest of our classmates as we study for Step and prepare to navigate this new world.

But that’s why, now more than ever, we have to remember that our calling is to care for one another as much as we would for our patients. Our individual successes and failures are intertwined with those of one another. Our strength as a community hinges on every member feeling cared for, valued, and understood.

All too often, the chaos of each day drowns out the ability to listen, to reflect, and to give thanks. So today, let us give thanks.

We honor the brave healthcare professionals and volunteers out on the front lines keeping us and our communities safe.

We send our gratitude to Dean Page, Dean Zehle, Dean Rosen, Dr. Lounsbury, and Dr. Moore, as well as all the associate deans and leaders who are listening to our voices and concerns.

We give our thanks to the entire Medical Education team, and all the staff and workers behind the scenes who are helping us have a great education, including people like Mike Cross.

We give thanks for all of our faculty, and for the skills and passion of our course directors, whether it was the winning humor of Dr. Everse, the inspiring vision of Dr. Raszka, the extraordinary dedication and pre-exam speeches of Dr. Wilcox, the determined adaptability of Dr. Gupta, the remarkable efficiency of Dr. Cook, the masterful coordination of Dr. Hale, the vigorous enthusiasm of Dr. Humphrey, or the able leadership of Dr. King.

Finally, we give thanks for each other, and the enduring memories we will have shared as one team and one family.

It was Sir William Osler who told his students, “Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition.” As we close this chapter and open the next, let us establish our legacy as a class that lived by those principles – not only for ourselves, but also for generations to come.

Watch Vinh’s recorded speech.

Read more about the Foundation Celebration and watch short videos from the event.

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