Dylan Devlin, M.D.’17, Class Speaker for the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine Class of 2017, addressed the crowd gathered in Ira Allen Chapel for Commencement May 21, 2017. This blog post is his commencement address in its entirety.
Thank you Dr. Zehle. I’m excited to have the opportunity to address you today. I’ve always wanted to speak at a graduation but have always been passed over by some…valedictorian. I was thrilled to accept, but after doing so I realized that speaking at this graduation would be no small task. As members of the Class of 2017 know, we just might be the greatest class to have ever graduated…at any time…in any field…on any planet. I began to crumble under the pressure knowing that if I disappointed my classmates, I would be disappointing all of humanity. So I turned to the person whose knowledge is boundless and who has given each member of this class the tools necessary to succeed in medical school…Dr. Google. I asked Dr. Google to help me write a speech that is worthy the class that sits before me. A speech that would be…second to none. What I found was an inspiring piece entitled “How to Make a Middle School Graduation Speech.” This article had 83 co-authors. And in medicine, the more authors there are, the better a paper is. I brought along references for you youngsters out there who want to impress your audience on your graduation day. Let just see how this one goes first… Here, step by step, is what I was instructed to do:
- Introduce yourself.
Hello. My name is Dylan Devlin and I was born and raised in Vermont. I like to run occasionally, am diligent about sunscreen application and have a recently discovered allergy to black henna tattoo ink.
- Talk about your first memory at your school.
A week before medical school started I arrived at my new apartment to find three men, my future classmates, shirtless in my living room. I remember thinking “I should have gone to PA school.”
- Talk a bit about the other students.
My classmates are an exceptional group of people who work hard and aren’t afraid to speak their minds…through OMSE. Through…lively debate and continuous encouragement, we have helped one another grow into more capable individuals. Though we agree on almost nothing, we respect each other because the relationships built during these four years are unlike any other relationships we will ever have. Consider this: When you’re covered in cadaver fat and eating lunch alone, who will sit with you? These people will. Who will stand beside you silently while your patient presentation is eviscerated by an attending? These people will. Who will fight tooth and nail for a quarter of a point on a quiz worth 2% of your final grade, because that question was stupid and it didn’t make sense? These people will. Medical school would not have been as educational, entertaining, dramatic, frustrating, or worthwhile without you. I feel privileged to have spent this time with you and to always be associated with this class, for better or for worse.
- Say a sentence or two about the staff and faculty.
Unfortunately, a five to seven minute speech isn’t enough time to tell those of you who aren’t students about the people who work at UVM. We all have extraordinary stories about a staff or faculty member who went above and beyond for us. I could tell you that they are intelligent, dedicated, supportive, or patient but I think there isn’t enough weight to these words. The best I can do is to ask those of you not graduating to think of the person in your life who has guided you though stressful times, who has reached out to help without being asked, or who has tolerated your irrational arguments and tell you that is the kind of person that works at UVM. So thank you all for helping us, the Class of 2017, to make this day a reality.
- Talk about how much you’ve enjoyed the experience.
Despite its rocky start back in that living room four years ago, medical school has been a formative experience for me as well as many others. We have learned to understand the complexities of the human body and how to connect with the human soul. We have experienced tragedy but have also witnessed new life and humanity in its purest form. We have braved the bitter cold and rejoiced in the unnaturally short summers. We have triumphed over most challenges but have also seen our share of defeats. All these experiences and emotions have been taken in stride as we relentlessly proceeded towards our goal of becoming physicians. And now, finally, all that hard work has yielded its reward, which is, of course, so much more work. Medical school is one of many ways to spend four years. Certainty not the easiest, most straightforward, way, but I believe it is among the best.
- Talk about the future.
Each of us has studied hard and spent moderate sized fortunes to get where we are today. This day marks yet another instance where we move from knowledgeable, confident, well established members of one institution to clueless, frightened newcomers of another. The future is a notoriously difficult thing to predict so I won’t say much more except that I wish each and every one of you the best of luck in it.
- Add a closing statement.
I’m glad to see that there are so many of you here today to celebrate this milestone with us. And it is actually a great representation of what it really takes to produce a doctor. Our family and friends had spent countless hours, before medical school even started, to develop the right personalities, installing the drive to learn, and making sure we stay on track. And I think it’s good to remember that we aren’t the only ones who put an investment forward. So, I think that I can safely speak for all of my classmates when I say thank you to everyone who has worked to support a member of the Class of 2017. Thank you for being here today. And a thank you to those who are tuning in from around the globe…or a building next door. I appreciate your attention and congratulations to my classmates.
- “How to Make a Middle School Graduation Speech.” Updated May 6th, 2017. Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Middle-School-Graduation-Speech
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