The presented new medical students with white coats at a special ceremony held at the Toni and Martin Sosnoff Theater in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse at Hofstra University on Oct. 11, 2019. It is the medical school's ninth class to embark on this traditional rite of passage into a career in medicine.
Comprised of 103 students, the Zucker School of Medicine Class of 2023 is a blend of socio-economic backgrounds, including nearly 50 women and 20 ethnically underrepresented in medicine like student, Jonathan Guevara, whose parents escaped the political unrest in their native El Salvador for a better life in America.
"For me, receiving my white coat represents that my parents' sacrifices haven't been in vain. I wonder how difficult it must have been to start fresh in a country where they didn't speak the language or have connections," said Guevara, a Hofstra graduate and Hempstead resident. "I made the choice to become a doctor after recognizing that there was a huge demand for Spanish-speaking physicians in the U.S. I hope to bridge the gap between the Latino and medical community by serving as an ambassador to both."
Zucker School of Medicine classmate, Joy Achuonjei, also intends to help make health care in reach for all.
"After completing my undergraduate degree, I spent a few years working directly on issues of access in higher education. That was what attracted me to the Zucker School of Medicine," said Achuonjei of East Lansing, Michigan. "Our school's emphasis on self-directed learning, early clinical experiences, and access to Northwell Health's diverse patient population provides me with the tools needed to become a doctor who breaks down accessibility barriers in the health care field and beyond."
The White Coat Ceremony takes place at medical schools across the country and pays tribute to the beginning of a student's transformation to a medical professional. At the Zucker School of Medicine, the white coat is presented to first-year students upon completion of their first course and emergency medical training, instead of at the start like other institutions, to recognize them as not just new learners but colleagues in medicine.
“My job and our job as faculty is to help you to grow into that person called a doctor, that’s what we celebrate today,” said Zucker School of Medicine Dean, Lawrence G. Smith, MD, also executive vice president and physician-in-chief of Northwell Health.
This year's ceremony was attended by members of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and medical school benefactors, Donald and Barbara Zucker, who joined hundreds in attendance marking a milestone for medical students on the road to becoming doctors.
"To think that 30 plus years later [my parents] get to celebrate their son starting medical school is a very beautiful thought for me," said Guevara. "The white coat ceremony is a way for my family to pause and reflect on how fortunate we've been throughout the years."