‘A big giant family:’ White coat ceremony held for OUWB Class of 2026
An image of a student getting a white coat
Joe Dib, a member of OUWB's Class of 2026, is presented his white coat by his father, Elie Dib, M.D.

It was a memorable Monday for OUWB’s 125 newest students as the Class of 2026 officially began its medical school journey during the school’s 2022 White Coat Ceremony.

Featuring the school’s 12th class, the event coincided with the first day of orientation for the new medical students. Family and friends participated by attending in person or via livestream.

The ceremony featured remarks from Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D.; Ben Schwartz, M.D., president, Beaumont Health; Jay Fisher, M.D., president, medical staff, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak; and Berkley Browne, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs.

Watch: Full OUWB Class of 2026 White Coat Ceremony

Duane Mezwa, M.D., Stephan Sharf Dean, OUWB, told those who attended and watched online that the members of the Class of 2026 have the perfect combination of qualities to fit the OUWB culture.

“Class of 2026…you’ve taken your first steps in your medical school journey,” he said.

“I hope that you will always know that everyone in this room is happy that you are here at OUWB. Welcome to the family.”

Now considered a rite of passage, a white coat is given to each student and they recite — as a group — the Oath of Geneva. At OUWB, students receive their white coats from the mentors they will work closely with for the next four years via the school’s PRISM program.

“The white coat itself holds much significance,” said Mezwa. “It is associated with science — a symbol that the medicine profession is based on scientific inquiry. It is the uniform of medicine, and by wearing this uniform you are accepting a new level of responsibility.”

Mezwa also highlighted the already impressive accomplishments of the class.

The 125 members  including six Oakland University graduates  ultimately were selected from among nearly 8,000 applications.

An image of a student getting a white coat
Claire Kopachik is presented her white coat by her mother, Annette Kopachik.

In addressing the students’ commitment to compassion, altruism, empathy, and engagement, Mezwa noted the more than 165,000 total service hours performed by the class prior to OUWB. He also acknowledged the “diverse and intellectual characteristics that make up this class.”

Browne highlighted many of those unique characteristics, from where the students have traveled, to what they are interested in, and more.

“Your drive and determination is what created the path that led you here, to OUWB School of Medicine, and we look forward to watching you continue rising to the next challenges,” she said.

Schwartz told the class that he “is excited to go on this journey with you.” He reminded everyone that the impact of the class one day will be “very, very, very significant.”

“I promise that our system is committed to a strong partnership … and that our faculty get tremendous pleasure and happiness…to be part of your experience, to be part of your education,” he said. “I commit to you that we will do everything we can to make sure the next generation of providers…is as strong as it can possibly be.”

“I’m super excited to start this journey with you and I’m looking forward to seeing you in the hallways of the hospitals,” he said.

‘A big, giant family celebrating’

An image of students reciting the Oath of Geneva
Members of OUWB's Class of 2026 recite the Oath of Geneva during the school's 2022 white coat ceremony.

Students, families, and friends at OUWB’s 2022 White Coat Ceremony generally reported feeling excited, nervous, and most of all, proud.

“It’s an honor to be here,” said Chennai Marcus. “Everyone at OUWB has been so supportive…it feels like a big giant family celebrating an event.”

Bryan Noirot said “it feels amazing that I finally made it to this point.”

“It’s taken so long to get there…I don’t think it’s set in that I’m actually here,” said Noirot, who called getting his white coat “a big moment.”

Joud Obri said he was “excited” ahead of the ceremony with no nerves or tensions present, as he starts his “exciting journey.”

Evan Sangster said “it’s been a lot of years of preparation, hard work, failures and mistakes..everything that’s led me here.” He said he was “excited but still really nervous.”

Sangster said he was most looking forward to celebrating the day with family.

“Everything that I’ve been able to do until today has been because of them,” he said. “It’s just as much about them as it is about me so I’m really excited to share this experience with them.”

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Vicky Lu also said celebrating the day with family was the highlight. Lu said she has a cousin who attends another medical school, but didn’t get the traditional white coat ceremony (in 2020) due to COVID-19. Lu said that made her especially grateful for Monday’s event.

“My family was really excited that they could be here in-person and celebrate this accomplishment,” she said. “I’m really glad that we were able to actually have an in-person celebration like this.”

James Um said he also spent time reflecting on his journey to Michigan from southern California. Monday’s ceremony brought all of the thoughts together.

“I had a lot of time to think about how I got here in the first place…and it’s just a lot of thankfulness,” he said.

Family of OUWB students in attendance generally expressed feelings of pride.

Michael Gallagher, M.D., a cardiologist at Beaumont, presented his daughter, Lindsay Gallagher, with her white coat.

“I’m so, so proud,” he said. “I’m proud of what this medical school has done, proud of this amazing group of students, and especially proud of my daughter. It’s a really special day.”

Andrea Karsten, mother of Joel Karsten, said “it’s been a long journey.”

“We’re so incredibly proud and pleased that our son is at OUWB,” she said. “It’s a very welcoming campus and community…it’s absolutely the right place for our son.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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