Following a Tradition of Dedication and Service to the U.S. Military

A row of nine people stand in military uniform with right hands raised
Nine medical students representing the Air Force, Army and Navy graduated from the Health Professions Scholarship Program at the Military Commissioning Ceremony at Georgetown School of Medicine.

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(May 19, 2019) — It was a family affair as nine medical students representing the Air Force, Army and Navy graduated from the Health Professions Scholarship Program at the Military Commissioning Ceremony at Georgetown School of Medicine on Armed Forces Day.

Charles Conlon speaks while holding notes
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Charles Conlon, MD (M’79), himself a Georgetown University HPSP scholar, gave the keynote address at this year’s ceremony.

Each student, surrounded by their loved ones, renewed their oath of office during the promotions ceremony. Army and Air Force graduates were promoted to captain and Navy graduates were promoted to lieutenant.

Highlighting Georgetown’s long-standing commitment to military medicine, this year’s keynote speaker, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Charles Conlon, MD (M’79), and a Georgetown University HPSP scholar, spoke about his career in military medicine.

“Some would say I’ve had more jobs than most millennials, but I used the skills I learned in military medicine in each one: the leadership skills, the power of teamwork and the sense of family,” Conlon said. “I’ve had many chances since graduating from Georgetown School of Medicine, and I’ve made them into opportunities.”

Two people wrap gold braid around the sleeves of a young woman's jacket.
The parents of Navy Lt. Elizabeth Conlon fastened the braid of her rank onto her uniform.

Conlon’s daughter, Navy Lt. Elizabeth Conlon (M’19), said it was her dad that inspired her to follow a military medicine career.

“I’m the youngest of five, and all of my siblings were born at military hospitals and we all went there for health care,” she said “It always struck me as a very respectful environment. I could see the mutual respect between all the servicemen and women and then the respect that the doctors had for the people they were taking care of and I just really admired all of that.”

“I also admired what my dad did and that he was able to serve our country as a pediatrician, and help sick kids,” she added. “He would go on mission trips with the Navy and that just was really cool.”

‘Just Something About Georgetown’

Lt. Conlon also saw a connection between the goals of military medicine and Georgetown’s focus on cura personalis, care of the whole person.

Three individuals stand side by side in military uniform
(Pictured left to right) Capt. Annemarie Galasso, Lt. Elizabeth Conlon and Capt. Matthew McClenathan were among nine medical students participating in the ceremony.

“In military medicine, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that our patients may have a family member that is deployed or going to be gone for a while, and just always trying to remember to keep that in mind too,” she said. “[We need to] treat the whole spectrum of the person — their mind, their body, their spirit, their family — and just take that all into my approach as I go forward.”

Conlon’s classmate Capt. Matthew McClenathan (M’19) has always felt pulled toward a career in military medicine. “Coming out of high school, I attended United States Military Academy at West Point, and that reaffirmed my will to want to become an Army doctor. So I applied to Georgetown. But the commitment to service and just the general culture of the Army really called to me, and I haven’t regretted joining up.”

Though he’s unsure where his career will take him after his residency in diagnostic radiology, McClenathan is optimistic.

“After my five-year residency, we’ll talk about the needs of the Army to see where they need me to go first before I pursue any subspecialty training,” he said. “But radiologists are very deployable, along with several other specialties, so I look forward to being able to serve both stateside soldiers and in deployment also.”

Family-Inspired Service

Growing up overseas, Capt. Annemarie Galasso (M’19) realized she wanted to pursue a career in medicine when she became aware of the health disparities and lack of access of quality health care while living in Morocco. Her military aspirations came from her great-grandparents on her mother’s side, who both served in World War II.

“It’s always been an important part of our family, and it’s something I was brought up thinking about,” she said. “So when I learned about the Health Professions Scholarship Program, it seemed like the perfect way of doing both medicine and serving in the military.”

People dressed in military uniform stand in a row to greet three individuals
Annemarie Galasso and other newly commissioned officers greeted keynote speaker and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Charles Conlon, Dean for Medical Education Stephen Ray Mitchell, and Dahlgren Memorial Library Director and Dean for Knowledge Management Jett McCann.

Family support was something that Galasso was very grateful for throughout her time at Georgetown. “My parents believed in me and pushed me throughout the process,” Galasso added. “Sometimes it felt like it was more than I could handle, but ultimately they knew how much I could handle. I would not be here today without their support and encouragement.”

In addition to her parents, Galasso was grateful to have her sister’s support. “Moving from place to place can be tough as a kid, so having her there as this built-in buddy was super valuable,” she said. “She moved back to D.C. a year ago, so spending time with her has been lovely. It’s something that I’m going to miss when I move to do my residency down in Charleston.”

As she sets out on the next step of her medical career journey, Galasso is quick to highlight the importance of her Georgetown family as well. “I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made over the last four years,” she said. “You definitely build a special bond with the people you go to medical school with. It’s definitely not easy and you lean on those people a lot, so I’m really going to miss those friendships.”

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