This year’s incoming class of 132 students was inducted into the UC Davis School of Medicine July 31 in a pandemic-era ceremony that lacked an in-person audience, but nonetheless celebrated the familial heritage of the future doctors.

Masked students sat socially distanced in the rows where family and friends would normally be. Each received their prized stethoscope on stage, then turned to the microphone and — often in languages other than English — saluted family watching via Facebook Live.

The Class of 2025 is among the most diverse ever, with roughly 77% of students identifying themselves as a race other than white. Slightly more than two-thirds of the class is female. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of Medicine No. 4 for diversity among its student body.

“Starting medical school during the pandemic is not for the faint of heart,” said School of Medicine Dean Allison Brashear. “I believe this is one of the more exciting times to be in medicine,” she added, “to serve our diverse communities in their greatest time of need.”

Shania Westmoreland receives her stethoscope from Associate Dean for Students Sharad Jain
Shania Westmoreland receives her stethoscope from Associate Dean for Students Sharad Jain.

Senior student speaker Harjot Virk also offered his perspective on resiliency. The keynote speaker was assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery Luis Godoy, who had joined a gang and dropped out of school before turning his life around and eventually graduating from UC Davis School of Medicine.

Associate Dean for Curriculum and Medical Education Kristin Olson and Associate Dean for Students Sharad Jain placed a stethoscope around each student’s neck, and one by one they delivered messages to family and friends watching around the world.

“I just want to say thank you to my family, my partner, my community, everyone who has helped me along the way,” said Alexandra Inslee. “This accomplishment is yours to share.”

Jasivet Chavez chose Spanish for her comments: “Gracias a todos mis mentores, amigos, y familia.”

Brian Sharon drew laughs when he quipped, “Thanks to the admissions committee.” Then in a more serious tone, he added, “and a special thanks to my husband for letting me turn our lives upside down and chase this dream — you’re my biggest cheerleader.”

Miriam Sarkisian said: “I want to thank my beautiful family who relocated their whole lives twice to different countries to bring me here today, to bring me better opportunities.”

Rebeka Dejenie thanked her mother, a political refugee from Ethiopia. “I just want to say thank you to my mom, my single immigrant mother who sent both of her daughters to medical school and my late father, who I know would have been here today,” she said before concluding her remarks in Amharic.

To see a recap video and more photos, visit the School of Medicine on the web or social media.