Pinning Ceremony Marks Official Welcome for Miller School Class of 2021

Tina Jordan and Louis Hindenlang traveled from New York to see daughter Madeleine Hindenlang take the next big step in her medical career.

Students march in to the pinning ceremony.

The proud parents, along with Tina’s mother, Marlis, helped to fill a packed tent at the Miller School of Medicine on Friday, March 2, for the 18th Annual John G. Clarkson Freshman Pinning Ceremony.

The ceremony, which takes place after first-year students have completed more than one full semester of medical school, honored the Miller School’s Class of 2021.

For Madeleine’s mother, the pinning ceremony was an exceptionally proud moment.

“It’s a big deal. It seems like it is almost more important than graduation,” Jordan said. “She worked so hard for this. She had a job after college as a researcher at a hospital for three years. She wanted to go to medical school more than anything else. This means she did it.”

The pinning ceremony was named in honor of Dean Emeritus John G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, who led the medical school for 11 years, from 1995-2006, after serving as director of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.

Edward Abraham, M.D. executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, and dean of the Miller School of Medicine, welcomed Clarkson and lauded him as one of the “giants” of the medical school.

“Under his leadership, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute emerged as the No. 1 eye hospital in the nation, and the Institute’s first off-campus center was established in the Palm Beaches,” said Abraham. “He recruited significant research and academic talent and presided over dramatic annual growth in scientific research. He also led the physical transformation of the medical campus, creating the Schoninger Research Quadrangle through the completion of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute and the Lois Pope LIFE Center.  He also led the medical school’s largest capital campaign at the time, culminating in the historic $100 million gift from the family of the late Miami developer Leonard M. Miller.”

Student Willy Chertman with Edward Abraham, M.D.

Abraham, who was attending his first pinning ceremony at UM, also welcomed and congratulated the students on all that they have already accomplished.

“Today, you will be pinned by the physicians who have gone before you,” Abraham said. “Those who know the dedication and focus needed for a career in medicine. These are the same values you are learning as future physicians. We celebrate your commitment and officially welcome you to the world of medicine.”

The ceremony, which was organized by medical students Melissa Alberts, Arjuna Dharmaraja, Michelle Shnayder, and Catherine Zaw, included a brief history of the pin and its significance.

“After completing over a semester of medical education, students are able to further understand the commitment and dedication involved in becoming the type of physician that we all strive to be,” said Caitlin Coviello, the Miller School student government president, who also urged the Class of 2021 to keep “falling in love” with the medical profession.

“I have all the confidence in the world that you will achieve wonderful things, and it is both okay and important to recognize these achievements while still exhibiting the humility that physicians should demonstrate,” Coviello said.

The first-year members of the School’s 15 academic societies lined up at the dais, and as each name was called, the student walked across the platform to be pinned — some by faculty, some by alumni and some by a family member or friend.

Edward Dauer, M.D. ’75, a senior member of the UM Board of Trustees, was one of the pinners. As a research associate professor in biomedical engineering, radiology, and family medicine at UM, Dauer has known several of the students since they were undergraduates and enjoys the opportunity to serve as a mentor.

“You see them grow from undergraduates, to maturity, to medical school, and they thrive and do very well,” Dauer said.

Echoing the encouragement to keep learning was keynote speaker Barry Byer, M.D. ’69, who told the students simply being at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine would always be a great accomplishment in their life.

“The career of medicine is a thrill,” Byer said. “The joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment are just enormous. You are going to make your families very proud.”

Members of the Hunter Society, one of the Miller School’s 15 academic societies.

Byer retired after practicing family medicine for 40 years in Falls Church, Va.  More than 25 years ago, he also founded CrossLink International, a non-profit humanitarian aid organization that equipped medical mission teams in third-world countries and the United States.  In 1999, he founded another aid organization – the Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade – which provides potable water, sanitation, smokeless stoves, recycled eyeglasses, physical therapy, and surgery to the underprivileged in Honduras.

He spoke about the difference those mission trips can make, including one instance in which his team was able to bring vision to a 7-year old boy who had been blinded by congenital cataracts.

Byer told the students that they too could make a global impact in their medical careers.

“Anybody who has been on a medical mission trip sees the type of good they can do, the difference they can really make in people’s lives,” Byer said.

Following the pinning, Robin Straus Furlong, M.D. ’82, president of the Medical Alumni Association, led the students in reciting the Declaration of Geneva.

The pinning ceremony, which opens Medical Alumni Weekend, drew family members and friends from around the country to celebrate with the students. Among them was Steven Brodar, a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, who traveled from North Carolina to see son, Steven Canon Brodar, receive his pin.

“After all the trials of trying to get into a medical school and accomplishing the first year, now he can concentrate on where he wants to go from here,” said Brodar. “It’s exciting to see that he’s accomplished so much.”

More photos from the ceremony can be found here.