A ‘first’ at the College of Medicine’s fifth White Coat Ceremony

Something happened at this year’s White Coat Ceremony that had never happened before. As he has every year since welcoming the inaugural class, Founding Dean Dr. John A. Rock led the incoming students in reading the Medical Student Oath.

Dr. Rock

It usually goes something like this: The dean reads the first line; the students repeat it; the dean reads the second line, the students repeat it, and so on. But this year, this class, was different. Once they started reciting the oath, the students just kept going. Rock stood there, a quizzical smile slowly building into a wide grin, amidst the growing chuckles of faculty and staff. Unfazed by the laughter around them, the students read on, while parents in the audience wondered what was so funny.

Students reading oat

When they were done, they got a standing ovation, and Rock finally let the cat out of the bag.

“You know this is a first. I was supposed to read part of it, and then you would follow. (But) you did a great job, and you saved me a lot of time,” the dean joked. Then reflecting on the class’ enthusiasm and initiative in reading the oath upon a single prompt, Rock predicted, “This class will do well.”

The Class of 2017 is the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s (HWCOM) fifth and largest class. The 122 new students — 67 men and 55 women — were chosen from a field of 3,946 applicants. The youngest member of the class is 21; the oldest is 35. One of the students is already a “doctor” (Ph.D.), and 16 have master’s degrees. Eighty percent of the students are Florida residents, but they come from 21 countries other than the U.S., and they graduated from colleges nationwide including FIU, FSU, UF, Brown, Case Western, Cornell, Duke, Emory, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Wellesley and Yeshiva University.

A Tale of Two Friends

For both Zaimat Beiro and Hanadys Ale, it is the best of times. On August 9, Beiro took the stage at the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center to receive her white coat as a first-year medical student.

Zaimat being coated

Cheering her on from the audience was her friend Ale, who only four years ago stood on that same stage to be coated, and who returned to that stage this past April to be conferred the doctor of medicine degree as part of the College of Medicine’s inaugural class.

“We cried, we both cried. It was very emotional, “ said Dr. Ale, who is doing her residency at Miami Children’s Hospital and was able to attend the ceremony.


The two had met in medical school in Cuba, and even after Ale came to the United States, they’d stayed in touch. Seven years ago, Beiro made her way to Miami. Although she never stopped dreaming of becoming a doctor, she worried if it was too late to start anew. “But Hany told me, ‘You can do it. You have to believe in yourself,'” said Beiro. “She was my inspiration.”

Other Words of Inspiration

Benjaming Leon and FIU President Rosenberg

The Class of 2017 heard words of inspiration from several speakers at the White Coat Ceremony who encouraged the young students as they embark on their medical education journey.

“In the final analysis, this journey that you begin is about making lives better and building communities. You stand as a metaphor for why this university was created, and you are the latest addition to our efforts to leave this world a better place.” -Mark B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., FIU President

“At times, the mountain will seem so hard to climb that doubt may creep in; when it does, think of the end result of the journey. When it is over, people will trust you with their most prized possession, their health… You will heal, you will comfort, and you will serve. I submit to you, that this is something worth fighting for…” -Benjamin Leon, Jr., Founder, Leon Medical Centers, Established endowment for the Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatric Research and Education and a chair in Geriatrics

Dr. Herbert Wertheim

“What your job in the future is, is to keep people healthy. When you find sick people, you have not done your job.” -Dr. Herbert Wertheim, Founding Chairman and FIU Trustee Emeritus

Dr. Grossman

“You cannot forget that lying beneath that vast, complex, medical apparatus and machinery; the wires and the monitors, the prostheses and the skin grafts, is a live, human being. That thinking, feeling, person, seeks someone who cares, who listens, and who heals. -Divina Grossman, Ph.D., R.N., Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Founding Vice President of Engagement and Former Dean, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, FIU

For more photos from the White Coat Ceremony visit our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiumedicine