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XUSOM celebrates Commencement Ceremony 2023

Aruba: Xavier University School of Medicine hosted its annual Commencement Ceremony on May 20 at its new residential campus in Aruba. There were a total of 51 graduates in the class, and more than half of them joined the ceremony in-person.


Dr. Jatin Shah was honored with a Xavier University School of Medicine Degree for his outstanding contribution to the medical field throughout his more than 40 year career at the ceremony. This was just the third time in the history of the school that an honorary degree was awarded.


Dr. Shah is currently the Chair of Head and Neck Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a national and international leader in the field of head and neck surgery, having served as President of The New York Cancer Society.


Dr. Shah has been the recipient of numerous awards from various parts of the world, and is the recipient of honorary fellowships from The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, London and Australia. Dr. Shah serves on the Editorial and Review Boards of 18 scientific journals, has published over 600 peer-reviewed articles, 50 book chapters and 10 textbooks, his publications have been cited over 53,000 times according to Google scholar, and his h-index is 131.


In his address to the graduates, Dr. Shah noted, “Today, your name has changed forever, either with a prefix of Dr. or suffix of MD, and now on you should always strive to raise the bar in outstanding patient care.”


It was followed by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the Xavier University School of Medicine Class of 2023, who  were then recognized.


Dr. Ali Akhter was named the Salutatorian. Originally from Ontario, Canada, he attended the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and received his degree in Mechatronics Engineering. He joined the Pre-Med program at Xavier in the Fall of 2017 and excelled through Xavier’s program, by actively participating in health fairs and numerous student organizations. Dr. Akhter matched in Internal Medicine at SUNY Upstate Med University, and will be joining in July.


Dr. Swathi Arunachalam was named the Valedictorian. Swathi was born in Texas and raised in India. Upon completion of IB Biology, Physics and Chemistry, she joined the Pre-Med program at Xavier in Spring 2018. Her excellence goes well beyond academics and her perfect GPA. She started tutoring students during lunch hours and was then elected as the president of AEP. Swathi also majored in Internal Medicine at SUNY Upstate Med University and will be joining in July.


In her address, Swathi said, “This was undoubtedly an exciting journey. The entire Xavier team, the board, the faculty and the administration made it possible for us to enjoy every phase. They were a huge support during our basic sciences, placed us in the best clinical rotations, and helped us throughout the match season. And they always made us feel at home.”


President Ravi Bhooplapur spoke to the graduates about keeping the passion and drive as they embark on their careers in the medical field. “You endured the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic both on a personal and professional level. You navigated medical school and worked in hospitals during a global pandemic, and you join a new generation of doctors who are experiencing a changing medical landscape in the years to come. I urge you to not lose faith in the foundation you have laid and the experiences that you have had.  We look forward to your successful careers in medicine,” he said.


His Excellency Endy Croes, Minister for Education and Sport of Aruba, was also present at the ceremony. Minister Croes noted with great pride that Aruba has helped to deliver 51 new doctors for the global healthcare community and that the construction of Xavier’s new academic campus in Aruba has shown a great commitment to its students and to the island.


The ceremony concluded with Dr. Jatin Shah leading the graduates in the Hippocratic Oath and President Bhooplapur officially conferring the degrees.


Graduation is a special time for these students as we are able to celebrate and reflect on all they have achieved during their medical school journey with Xavier University School of Medicine.

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