After countless hours of studying, hundreds of cups of coffee, and more than a few restless nights, students graduating from The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences waited in anticipation in the wings of the Stranahan Theater before receiving their diplomas.“It is so rewarding to finally have the title of doctor,” said Dr. Harshal Waghulde, who received his PhD in biomedical sciences at the college’s commencement ceremony May 27.
Waghulde was one of more than 170 students who received doctoral degrees.
Graduates and their guests listened as retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Desjardins delivered a commencement address centered on the theme of public service. It was fitting as leadership, determination, focus and community seem to be the common threads of this graduating class.
“Our class is unique. Sure, we challenged each other, but it’s not about vanity and competition,” explained Dr. Josh Merris, who received his doctorate of medicine. “We pushed each other and learned from each other in order to get better. We respect each other and have built a community of support. It’s been a great experience.”
The path to commencement was rewarding, but challenging.“Medical school was definitely a challenge. I missed family vacations and celebrations, and it was mentally draining,” said Dr. Rachael Sciplin, a doctor of medicine graduate. “My professors and family helped me to realize that the sacrifices were temporary and that I would come out of it better on the other side. I had to step out of my comfort zone and each success helped me to gain confidence.”
Waghulde is a first-generation college student from a small town in India, but he said the faculty and his colleagues made Toledo feel like home.
“There were many resources here for me to complete research and be on the front lines of cutting-edge science,” he said. “I am the first one in my family to go to college. I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in medicine.”
For Merris, balancing medical school and personal time with his wife and four young children was sometimes a challenge. He said his peers were supportive and respected his decision to go home after classes instead of joining them in the library or at social events.“My classmates and instructors helped me to find balance. They encouraged me to put family first and to stay focused on the reasons I wanted to pursue medicine,” he said. “I credit my wife for my success. She kept everything running. She was the glue that held it all together while I was studying. I can’t thank her enough.”
With degree in hand, the graduates are ready to make a difference in the world by giving back.
Sciplin hopes to work in an outpatient clinic in an urban or underserved area, perhaps returning home to the Toledo region after completing her residency at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa. Merris looks forward to making a difference in the lives of cancer patients. He will remain in Toledo for his first year of general residency before moving to Buffalo, N.Y., to begin in radiation oncology. Waghulde will continue his research during postdoctoral work at UT before returning to India.
“These and all of our graduates exemplify The University of Toledo’s mission,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “They are poised to improve the human condition through compassionate care, new treatment methods and community service. They are ready to become leaders and agents of change.”
In all, 254 students received degrees: 169 earned doctor of medicine degrees, five received doctor of philosophy degrees, 65 received master’s degrees, and 15 received graduate certificates.