“Instead of walking across a stage, I walked the living room,” said Jon Sole, MD, who will begin a psychiatry residency at Stanford this year. “Instead of fancy hors d’oeuvres, we served Cap’n Crunch. I don’t think much can replace hugging your loved ones, but our virtual gathering spanned thousands of miles, two continents and a few time zones.”
During the online ceremony, many of the speakers addressed the pandemic, as well as racial inequality — and especially how the pandemic highlights racial disparities in health care.
“Perhaps the single most jolting aspect of this pandemic for me has been the way in which it has thrown a searing light into the ugly corners of racial and ethnic disparities that delineate health and health care in America,” Minor said. “And if the pandemic created a time of needing to acknowledge these brazen disparities, the horrific killing of George Floyd marked the moment when none of us could any longer look away.”
Floyd died on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked worldwide protests, including one at Stanford Medicine, and a national reckoning about racism and police conduct.
Keynote speaker Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and of health research and policy at the School of Medicine, said the graduates are facing two pandemics: racism and COVID-19. “One pandemic is of hate and violence, and the other is born of denial and indifference,” she said.
Maldonado, who is also senior associate dean for faculty development and diversity, said she was confident the graduates could face and help solve the problems. “You can use your medical training and the privilege that comes with it to amplify the voices of people who go unheard,” she said.