UC Davis School of Medicine honors class of 2009

85 M.D.s and 19 M.P.H.s awarded

photo of Dr. Condessa Curley. ©2009 UC Regents
Dr. Condessa Curley

Eighty-five medical students now have that coveted “M.D.” attached to their names following commencement of the UC Davis School of Medicine's Class of 2009 on June 6.

This year's ceremony at the Mondavi Center on the Davis campus marked the 37th anniversary of the first graduating class at the School of Medicine. Condessa Curley, a 1996 graduate of the school, was this year's keynote speaker. Curley, who is on the staff of the Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center in Los Angeles, was named California Physician of the Year in 2008. She has also received the Humanitarian Award from the UC Davis School of Medicine in recognition of her efforts to improve community health in underserved populations.

A deeper way of listening

Curley’s focus on community care got its start at UC Davis when she volunteered in UC Davis’ student-run Imani Health Clinic — one of seven free clinics in Sacramento staffed by UC Davis students that provides primary care to uninsured and underinsured patients. Those invaluable experiences as a student inspired her to volunteer in Africa in 1999. Several years later, she co-founded Project Africa Global, a nonprofit organization that provides medical and humanitarian services to African communities in need, including children in orphanages and refugee camps.

In addressing the class of 2009, Curley talked about the integration of personal with professional experiences that have influenced her practice of family medicine — what she called “a deeper way of listening.” For Curley, those experiences included the death of her mother, the death of a child she delivered and realizing that putting shoes on children’s feet is as important as quality medical care. She encouraged the latest group of UC Davis M.D.s to do the same: “I hope that you, the graduating class of 2009, will rely on your inner compass — one that has been fed and nurtured over the past four years by your faculty here at the School of Medicine.”

“Recognizing what is while seeking things that could be is an essential quality of an artist as well as a good physician.”
— Tae-Soon Kim

The art and science of medicine

This year's student speaker was Tae-Soon Kim, who talked about the importance of learning the science and art of medicine.

“I believe that what makes medicine an art is the fact that, despite all the medical information that currently exists, there is also much uncertainty in medicine, and uncertainty forces us to think in terms of possibilities,” he said. “And this way of thinking — recognizing what is while seeking things that could be — is an essential quality of an artist as well as a good physician.”

Kim plans to continue his medical training at Harbor-UCLA Hospital in Southern California, where he is specializing in psychiatry. Kim says his most memorable experience in medical school occurred in an anatomy class when he looked at a brain and was stunned by the sudden realization that before him was an organ that created and contained all the experiences of an entire lifetime, including dreams, emotions, memories, music and language. He came away from that one class with a much more heightened sense of what it means to be a human being and of his responsibility as a physician to care for the lives of patients.

photo of Tae-Soon Kim, M.D. ©2009 UC Regents
Student speaker Tae-Soon Kim

The ceremony included several special awards, including the School of Medicine Medal, which honors a student who best exhibits the qualities of leadership, scholarship and respect for human life. This year’s honoree was Bobeck Modjtahedi.

Strength in medicine and public health education

In addition to medical degrees, the School of Medicine awarded 19 students with a Master of Public Health degree. This specialized program draws upon the multiple strengths of UC Davis in public health, epidemiology, veterinary medicine, rural health, occupational and environmental health, telemedicine and other research and academic areas. The university established the graduate program in 2002 to meet California's growing need for public-health professionals who can track, manage and prevent the spread of injuries and diseases, including cancer, birth defects and infectious conditions.

UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its specialty- and primary-care programs. The school offers combined medical and master’s degree programs in public health, business administration, and rural health, as well as a combined medical and doctoral degree for physician scientists interested in addressing specific scientific, social, ethical and political challenges of health care. Along with being a leader in health-care research, the school is known for its commitment to people from underserved communities and a passion for clinical care. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine.