June 2, 2014

Hello, Readers!

Back from Graduation! It was great. I was surprised–don’t get me wrong, I knew that it would be nice but I had no idea that it would be THAT nice. I had talked to former students who said it was alright but in general, a waste of time and money and not worth the trip. To be honest, I was on the fence about going, myself. I was planning on driving my folks up there even though it’s a 14-hr trip (not including stops), but then we ended up deciding to fly at the last minute which ended up being an expensive decision.

Not familiar with Massachusetts, I had never heard of Mechanics Hall before and thought that it would be some small municipal meeting area. Not so! Mechanics hall is this grandiose HUGE building built back in the 1800s which has a gorgeous cathedral ceiling with ornate decorations, a giant stage with built-in pipe organ. And then after the ceremony was over, the schools had actually gotten a really nice catering company to come in and provide “a light reception” of refreshments including sushi rolls, cookies, fruit, cheeses, foccacia, grilled chicken skewers, punch.

The school had reserved a block of rooms ($119/night + tax) at the Hilton Garden Inn in Worcester, where the ceremony took place, though those were sold out quickly. Most of the other places in Worcester were going for $150-200+ per night so we ended up staying a couple towns over in Framingham at the Sheraton for a thrifty $72/night (thanks Hotwire!). The hotel was described in reviews as looking like “the castle from Beauty and the Beast” and it did not disappoint. It was very nice with lots of amenities and huge rooms. We didn’t even mind that they charge $12/night for parking or $10/day for internet.

We flew into Boston on Friday, though the actual ceremony was on Saturday. Worcester is a good hour away from Boston so we decided to rent a car rather than getting around via taxi’s. The girl at the desk warned us that there were a lot of toll roads and suggested we get the unlimited E-Z toll pass for $11/day which ended up being great advice. I counted and we had to pass through 5 toll booths just on our routine trips between the towns. (Cash ONLY is accepted at the toll booths, plus you have to stop and pay–with the pass you just slow down but keep on driving right through). We settled in at the hotel then headed off to Worcester to scope out the hall and have some dinner. We quickly decided that our hotel (for $50 less/night) was much nicer than the Hilton when we drove past. We decided to have dinner across from the Hilton at a cantina restaurant someone had recommended. Bleh–not good. Bland and pricy. But on the plus side, they validated our parking and we were able to meet up with my relatives who had come into town for the graduation there.

The next day my folks dropped me off at the hall at 9:30 for the graduates’ brunch. At first I saw no one I knew–the reason for that later became apparent: Saba had over twice as many graduates as MUA, so most of the other people were there from Saba. The brunch consisted of an assortment of cookies, coffee, fruit and yogurt. What do you think I went for? Haha, that’s right–how often do you get to have a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast? I rationalized it, thinking how embarrassing it would be to pass out from low blood sugar during the ceremony. (Am I hypoglycemic? No, but it sounded good at the time.)

Slowly more MUA people started trickling in. You had to register and I finally got to meet some of the ladies in the clinicals office I’d been emailing back and forth with so much during these past 4 years. There ended up being 10 people from my class. All but a couple had matched–they were waiting to apply this coming year. Lots of them matched IM, a couple OB, and 3 of us were psych. (1 even in CANADA!) We looked at the program and there were 4 or 5 more whose names were there as graduates but who hadn’t come to the ceremony. Then there were quite a few people from other classes that were before mine. Saba had 8 rows of graduates and MUA had 3.5 for a grand total of about 150. We “rehearsed” which basically was the hall staff standing there telling us what we were supposed to do when we went up to the stage, then each school went down to the reception hall to have our class photos taken.

When we finished, folks were still being seated in the hall so we lined up and then in about 10 minutes, the ceremony began. We walked in to “Pomp and Circumstance” then heard introductions of all of the folks from administration at the schools who had come to see us. I was surprised–they’d flown up 2 of the Deans from the island to help with our graduation. We heard a speaker who was one of the higher-ups for our school. My parents said his speech was difficult to follow and sounded too “doctor-y” but which just sounded like he probably should have rehearsed a bit more to me; he kept losing his place in his notes. Then we heard from the student speakers. The guy from Saba was amazing. His speech was casual and effortless but at the same time, deep and summarized the similar struggles we had all been through up until this point. I knew when he finished that it was going to be tough for the guy from MUA to compare to. The guy from MUA who spoke was from my class. He did good, was a bit nervous, but it was just unfortunate that he had to follow such an amazing speech.

I found out at that point that we have an award called the Dean of Clinical Science Award–basically if you got straight A’s throughout clinicals, when you walk across the stage after you’re hooded, you get honor cords to wear. Also your name is printed in the program with an asterisk next to it. The speaker was the only one from my class to have received this honor. I was suddenly ashamed. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I suppose I can go ahead and share that during my clinicals, I got all A’s and just 1 B–it was during an elective, my adolescent medicine elective at Cook County Hospital in Chicago that I got my only B. That’s it, a 4-week elective (out of 72 weeks of clinicals) during which I’m not sure what I did wrong to get a B instead of an A. I know it doesn’t matter at this point, I’m already in a residency, but I felt like I’d let my parents and relatives down. I felt guilty for not going back and making an issue out of it to see what I’d done wrong or bad. Needless to say, knowing what I know about awards and rotations now, I won’t be recommending THAT elective to anyone.

But anyway, then we watched Saba stand and walk up to the stage and hear their name called, get hooded and receive their fake diplomas, then we did the same. After everyone had been across the stage, we all stood and recited the Hippocratic oath together, which was fun and monumental-feeling. Then we all left for the reception. Our “gift” was available at the reception–apparently they give out a book each year. This year it was a book about Henrietta Lacks (unknowing provider of HeLa cells from her cervical cancer sample so many decades ago) and the [lack of] medical ethics associated with her case. Oh, we also got to pick up our diplomas at the reception (those of us who graduated in May, at least). That was a happy moment.

After the reception, my family and I went back upstairs to the hall for a photo shoot on the stage and with the school banner. They were all very proud and a little tearful. When we went to leave, we noticed that lots of folks had parked on the street. We thought it was metered parking though looked as we walked past only to notice that the meters are not active on the weekends–free parking. Good to know for next year. I’m already planning on trying to get off so that I can go see the rest of the folks from my class walk across the stage!

6 Responses to “Graduation”

  1. Anny said

    CONGRATULATIONS on matching and graduating!! Just want to tell you that I’m a long time fan of your blog and that I totally appreciate you sharing your life w us readers. One question, how many MUA grads were there? Do you have a rough estimate of the percentage of this years grads who matched? Just curious….

    • jenningers said

      Hello, Anny,

      Glad you like the blog! Thanks for reading and thanks for the congrats!

      I can check the program but I think there were around 75 MUA graduates listed, though not all of them came to the ceremony. I know nothing about match statistics other than what my classmates have told me about who in our class matched and who didn’t. MUA has not published the 2014 Match list yet, though there was a COMBINED list of the sites where BOTH MUA and Saba folks had matched this year, listed in our program. If you’re curious, I would check the website every so often. Here’s the link to the page where the match lists show up (it’s not so easy to find–I usually use the search function–there are links at the bottom):



  2. sevm said

    Dear Jenn!
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and appreciate that take time to share your story with us! Your story is very informative and amazing 🙂
    I had couple of questions regarding Mcat/USMLE correlation and if you don’t mind can I email you?
    Thank you soo much!

    • jenningers said

      Hi, Sevm,

      Thanks for reading–glad you like the blog! I understand the nature of standardized test score privacy, so I’ll send you an email if you would like to converse in a not-so-public place.


  3. Martina Mikail said

    Hi Jenn!
    I love your blog. Thank you for the insight. I had a couple of questions about MUA and would like your input if you have a change do you mind emailing me?

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