Published May 5, 2022
The ceremony marked the first UB commencement presided over by Allison Brashear, MD, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, who was appointed to the positions in December 2021.
It also marked the return to an indoor, in-person ceremony, conducted in the Center for the Arts on the university’s North Campus. Last year’s commencement ceremony was conducted outdoors at UB Stadium on North Campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine students in the Class of 2022 earned dual degrees:
Brashear, the ceremony’s honored speaker, told the graduating class it was not the usual graduation.
“While the world struggled to manage to get through the day with Zoom meetings, you learned how to be a physician during the worldwide pandemic.”
“You lived it when it became real, you lived the headlines when others just read about it,” she said. “You actively participated in improving your community and everything around you.”
“You saw the entire world appreciate the impact of research on testing, vaccines and treatment — and I am confident in saying that without those advances in research, we would not be together here today.”
Brashear added: “Your class leaves a legacy of advocacy and resilience, putting the Jacobs School on a different trajectory — and all of us thank you.”
“I urge you to remember the resilience and the flexibility that you have been taught here at UB. You will call on that foundation many times over your career,” she said. “That bedrock of following the core mission of being a physician will keep you grounded as medicine changes around you.”
“As your future in medicine awaits, I want to leave you with two messages,” Brashear said. “One, enjoy today. Too often in medicine we are moving from task to task, and not taking time to savor the moment. Turn to your family and friends and say ‘thank you.’ Nobody becomes a physician without the support of loved ones, amazing teachers and friends.”
“Second, always be patient-centered. Whether your paths take you to the bedside, the lab or administration, always remember that core to being a physician is putting the patient first.”
“Having the patient at the center — what is right for the patient as your true north — will always provide the right answers,” she said.
“Again, I want to congratulate you on your graduation from medical school today and on entering your next chapter in becoming a physician,” Brashear concluded. “Medicine needs you and we are so proud to call you Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences alumni.”
Class speaker Bilal Hasanspahic says the adversity he faced growing up prepared him to deal with the difficulties in caring for patients.
A refugee from war-torn Bosnia, Hasanspahic immigrated to the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Yes, I was actually at the airport in New York City with my parents and older brother on that day. We saw the smoke from that tragedy.”
During his trauma rotation last summer, he was tasked with helping a woman remove an engagement ring from her hand due to swelling.
“Her response left a knot in my stomach as she informed me that her fiancé of two months had passed away in the same car crash that had caused her to be brought into the trauma bay at that time,” Hasanspahic said.
“I made a project to allow her to leave her ring on and I really don’t think any experience would have prepared me to deal with that at that particular moment,” he added. “However, all these difficulties and failures provide me with the ability to have a humanistic approach to comfort someone and to listen to their needs.”
Hasanspahic said “once we walk across this stage today and receive our diplomas, we will be privileged to have the ability to be there for our patients.”
“During their most difficult times, they will look to us for guidance and help, they will depend on us to manage their symptoms, cure their diseases and even create makeshift necklaces out of surgical tape to hold their beloved rings around their neck.”
“There is only one standard of medicine we should value above all else and that is excellence, and compassion and empathy for our patients,” Hasanspahic added.
“I know with absolute certainty that you will continue to learn, innovate and advance this field that we all love and appreciate because this is required by each and every one of us,” he said. “Let’s use today to celebrate all of our accomplishments and reflect on the experiences that we have shared throughout this journey to become physicians.”
“Lastly, let’s remind ourselves of all the great things we can and will achieve as the Class of 2022. Thank you and congratulations to us all.”
In the ceremony’s opening remarks, UB President Satish K. Tripathi, PhD, said he knew the students were eager to cross the stage and accept their diplomas.
“But before you do, I have one request of you. I ask you to pause to consider how far you have come and all that you have overcome to arrive at this point.”
“Perhaps you will take into account the challenges you encountered while mastering a given subject, an adaptation you made during the pandemic, the lessons you learned in your field and about yourself,” he said.
“What I hope you surmise is that your UB journey and your success are cause for great celebration.”
Tripathi reminded the graduates that “through your disciplinary expertise you have refined your reasoning capabilities and sharpened your intellect.”
“I truly believe that the power to shape the future is in of each of you,” he said. “I also believe to succeed in this endeavor, humility must be a constant companion.”
“Graduates, if we have done our job at UB, you have the knowledge, wisdom and humility to positively impact the world,” Tripathi concluded. “I greatly look forward to seeing you do just that.”
Leiah Nicole Ashton, left, and Shanique Carmellia Bailey are all smiles following the commencement ceremony.
Sarah Lindsay Moses, left and Aneliya San celebrate their graduate from medical school outdoors after the ceremony.
Jacobs School Dean Allison Brashear, MD, poses with graduates Kristine Karibandi, left, and Hannah Hart.