First-year medical students donned their white coats for the first time at Founders’ Day on August 4 at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. The annual celebration welcomes a new class of medical students to campus, honors Feinberg’s founders and marks the official start of the academic year.
“It feels a little bit like a homecoming, coming back to Chicago. I have my mom here, I have my friends here, so I’m excited for this new chapter. I’m excited to be a Northwestern student, a Wildcat,” said Ibrahim Mokhtar, a first-year medical student.
Mokhtar, who completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, attended Founders’ Day with his friends and mother. Mokhtar’s mother immigrated to the United States from Sudan before he was born. At the age of five, his father passed away while he and his mother were visiting Sudan. Left with the choice to either stay in Sudan or go back to the U.S., his mother decided to go back to the U.S. because she knew her son would have better educational opportunities.
“Getting this white coat means honoring her sacrifice, it means honoring my late father, it means proving some of the people in my family back in Sudan wrong who thought that she wouldn’t be able to do it as a single mother here. It represents the love that my mom has for me and I’m very grateful to put on this white coat and prove her right,” Mokhtar said.
Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean, spoke about Feinberg’s history of distinguished physicians and scientists and affirmed the class of 2027 that their medical school journey at Feinberg will be fulfilling and filled with ample learning and growth.
“You may be rest assured within the broad opportunities at Feinberg you will find a problem to solve conducive to your inclinations. Feinberg, as it always has, will prepare you well for whatever path you choose to follow,” Neilson said.
Kathleen Hagerty, PhD, provost of Northwestern University, also affirmed to students that she looks forward to how this year’s incoming class will transform the field of medicine and improve the health and lives of communities.
“As Northwestern Wildcats, you have joined a vibrant and diverse community of thinkers and scholars who are at the forefront of their fields in the arts, science, business, engineering, law and of course medicine. You will encounter abundant opportunities for collaboration with scientists and experts across a wide array of disciplines,” Hagerty said.
Ladner encouraged students to embrace the journey of medical school with every success and failure, and that willingness to learn from failures and mistakes offers opportunities for growth and discovery.
“You have the next four years to learn about all aspects of medicine and what amazing opportunities it has to offer. And then you have your entire career ahead of you to find new opportunities over and over again,” Ladner said.
Marianne Green, MD, vice dean for Education and the Raymond H. Curry, MD, Professor of Medical Education, led the white coat ceremony, in which second-year medical students helped first-year students put on their white coats for the first time.
“It’s something that I’ve dreamed about since high school and to actually be wearing the white coat and recognizing how much of a privilege this is has been absolutely amazing. My family is here, both of my parents are doctors and have been such an inspiration to me. Having my closest friends and family around me has made me really realize the impact of this work and just how far I’ve come,” said Anushree Aneja, a first-year medical student.
Together, and with their white coats donned, first-year students then recited the Declaration of Geneva, the modern incarnation of the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath.
“I wanted to become a physician because I’ve always had the desire to help people,” said Jasmyne McCoy, a first-year medical student. “You can help people in a multitude of professions, but I personally wanted to be a physician because I wanted to help people live in a body that is not their prison. As a physician, whether as an ophthalmologist, an orthopedic surgeon, I want to be able to help people in some way to live in a body that helps them experience life to the fullest.”
After the ceremony, Feinberg students, faculty and guests gathered at the Founders’ Day reception, sponsored by the Feinberg Medical Alumni Association.