They come from across the country and around the world. Many have a military background. Some come from families with a long tradition in medicine.
No matter the path they were on, the 196 students that make up the Georgetown University School of Medicine Class of 2020 are now moving forward on the same journey, with cura personalis at the core.
They began their walk together August 5 at the annual White Coat Ceremony held in Gaston Hall. While many view the ceremony as the beginning of medical school, Georgetown educators stress that it marks the beginning of a medical career.
“What comes with the white coat is transformational,” said Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD (W’86), dean for medical education. “This is not graduate school. You will be part of the medical profession.”
Donald Knowlan, MD (R’60, W’82, H’04), emeritus professor of medicine, delivered a powerful keynote speech, as he has for many years.
Generations of Georgetown Medicine
With his Georgetown Medicine alumni parents proudly looking on, Timothy DeVita (C’14, M’20) was coated by his alumna grandmother, Marie DeVita (M’54). One of only four women in her graduating class, she passed the torch on to the third generation in what she describes as a wonderful and very emotional ceremony.
Much has changed since she was at Georgetown, including the class makeup: this year’s cohort is comprised of more women than men.
The DeVitas were not the only Georgetown family at the event. Krista Roberts (M’20) was drawn to Georgetown all the way from Sacramento, California to follow in her family’s footsteps. Her mother graduated in 1986, and her aunt, uncle, and other extended family also graduated from the School of Medicine.
“I come from a family of physicians, so I had a lot of exposure to it,” said Roberts. “I made an effort to branch out and try different things, but nothing else had the feel of the patient-doctor interaction. I chose Georgetown because all of my family members had such great things to say about it.”
Different Journeys, Common Purpose
No two students have walked the same path. Stephen Pineda (M’20) describes his journey to medical school as “slightly unusual,” but says that every step solidified his conviction to become a physician. After graduating from West Point in 2008, Pineda served as an infantry officer for five years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the U.S., he worked as an EMT in Baltimore, often operating in underserved areas of the city. He later joined a research lab at Boston Children’s Hospital before coming to Georgetown.
“My experiences in the army made me realize that I wanted to work in a profession that would allow me to care for others,” says Pineda. “Georgetown’s emphasis on care of the whole person really spoke to the type of doctor I wish to be.”